The National Famine Monument is a commemorative sculpture located in Murrisk, Mayo County. It pays homage to the victims of the Irish Great Famine, and mainly to the Irish people who decided to take to the sea, in the direction of the United States to escape the misery of the time. An act of great courage, because the conditions of travel – deplorable – in no way guaranteed that they would reach the New World alive…
The sculpture is located directly on the road to the Croagh Patrick Visitor Centre. Designed by John Behan in the 1990s, the sculpture was unveiled in 1997.
The monument depicts the “Ship Coffin” which was one of the many ships carrying Irish people to America.
The boat is made of bronze, and represents an emaciated boat, “inhabited” by human skeletons whose suffering seems to be read on their faces.
The sculpture is as symbolic as it is heavy. It denounces the tragedy experienced by the Irish people, ready to do anything to leave their Famine-hit Ireland. However, taking the boat was just as risky as staying in Ireland…
The ships carrying the Irish dictated frighteningly restrictive policies: each passenger had to bring his own food for the journey, not exceeding 3 kilos of food. A terrible rule, because most Irish people at the time were too poor to buy their own food!
Many Irish had therefore decided to embark with little to live on, hoping to find the physical strength to survive the deprivation during the journey (the crossing, however, lasted more than a week!).
This memorial therefore pays homage to the brave Irish people who tried everything to flee Ireland and its famine in order to find a better life. An obscure episode in Irish History, which unfortunately decimated more than 25% of the population at the time (between the Irish who stayed in the country, and those who tried to reach America).
Access to the monument is free and worth the detour. Situated in a wild setting, close to the lakes, the National Famine Monument is conducive to meditation. To discover if you wish to immerse yourself in Irish History…
Duration: 20 minutes