(Clockwise: Boston Irish Famine Memorial, Deer Island Famine Memorial, Children of the Famine Memorial in Charlestown, An Gorta Mor Memorial in Lawrence, and Cambridge Irish Famine Memorial in Cambridge)
In tribute to Ireland's National Famine Commemoration ceremonies on May 16, 2021, the Boston Irish Tourism Association shares this roundup of Irish Famine Memorials throughout Massachusetts.
These memorials, erected between 1997 and 2019, were built by local communities to commemorate the Irish Famine of the 1840s, which killed one million people and sent an additional two million people into exile. The Irish Famine is also known as An Gorta Mor, or the Great Hunger.
Many of the Irish who fled Ireland arrived at Boston Harbor, starving and sick, and were quarantined at Deer Island before being allowed to come ashore. Many of them died on the island and over 800 are buried there. In 1847 alone, 25,000 Irish arrived in Boston, according to historian Thomas O'Connor.
Other Irish refugees arrived at other ports along the Eastern Seaboard, from New York to Montreal and St. John, NB, and made their way to Massachusetts and New England, often on foot.
A variety of Irish-American organizations were involved in building these memorials, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Charitable Irish Society, Eire Society of Boston, and the Lawrence Irish Foundation. Among the community leaders who led fundraising were Tom Flatley, Michael Cummings, David R. Burke, Billy Sullivan, John Flaherty, John O'Connor, Bill and Rita O'Connell, Mark Porter and many others.