Belfast Telegraph

Great Famine victims remembered

The victims of the Great Famine have been remembered during a solemn memorial service in Co Louth.

More than a million people died from starvation and disease and another half a million emigrated when the potato crop failed during the 1840s.

A minute's silence was held and a tree planted during the National Famine Commemoration in Drogheda. It was the second largest port of departure for those forced to flee Ireland on coffin ships throughout the notorious hunger.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the generational memory of the famine is what supports Irish Aid and all aid agencies to bring not just food but hope, self-reliance, compassion and dignity across the Developing World.

"A major priority of Irish Aid is to support global efforts to reduce hunger," said Mr Kenny..

"In addition to addressing the immediate needs of those who are victims of natural and manmade disasters, Ireland is also working to address the root causes of hunger and has become a leading global advocate in the fight against hunger. This is a key aspect of the National Famine Commemoration."

The population of Ireland, which was close to 8.5 million in 1845, fell to 6.6 million by 1851 with many emigrating to Britain and America. No other event in Irish history can be likened to the Great Famine, either for its immediate, tragic impact, or its legacy of emigration, cultural loss and decline of the Irish language.

Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan, Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Minister of State Fergus O'Dowd were joined by politicians from Northern Ireland and more than 30 foreign diplomats for the ecumenical service.

About 100 members of the Defence Forces took park in the memorial, which featured local musicians, reflections, a pipers lament and the Last Post - performed as the tricolour was raised

The service was part of a series of commemorative events that took place in the town which included commemorative walks, the recreation of the Soup Kitchen of 1847 and an exhibition of archival material from Strokestown Estate at the Drogheda Library.

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