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National Famine Commemoration 2023


21 May, 2023



National Famine Commemoration takes place in Milford, Co Donegal


The President, Michael D. Higgins, is today (Sunday 21 May) officiating at the National Famine Commemoration in Milford, Co. Donegal. The Government will be represented by Jack Chambers, Minister of State at the Department of Transport & Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications.


The formal State ceremony will feature a keynote address by President Higgins, and include military honours and a wreath laying ceremony in remembrance of all those who died during the Famine. Minister Chambers will also address the event.


In addition to the President, wreaths will also be laid by His Excellency, The Most Reverend Luis Mariano Montemayor, Apostolic Nuncio, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps; and Councillor Liam Blaney Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council.


Music at the event will be provided by local musicians from Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Maoil Ruaidh, while Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fiddler and singer with Altan, will perform the traditional lullaby ‘Dún do Shúil’ accompanied by guitarist Steve Cooney. The public ceremony will also be broadcast on the RTÉ News channel.


President Michael D Higgins said:


“National Famine Commemoration Day is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on and recall the lives, the suffering and the loss of that tragic event imposed on Irish people which we call An Gorta Mór, the Great Hunger, the Irish Famine. It is an opportunity too to remember those who fled to create new lives abroad, and reflect on the best lessons we might take from such a recall and how it might influence our contemporary lives and the lives of others. This year’s setting at the old site of the Milford workhouse is so appropriate given the adversity endured by the people of Donegal in the face of poverty, hunger and emigration throughout the 19th century and in particular during the Great Hunger.


The legacy of An Gorta Mór is complex, deep, wide, has many strands that have impacted on the Irish collective psyche as well as at the individual level. Its legacy is one of involuntary emigration, cultural loss, demoralisation and loss of confidence, both in terms of population and in terms of its impact on the Irish language and the marks this would have on the country, and in particular on Irish society. Given this foundational part of our near historical experience, it is easy to understand how the continuing issues of food security and food sovereignty in our contemporary world resonate profoundly with us as a people and must feature in our ethical reflections and our responses as we commemorate the period of An Gorta Mór. The strong commitment of the Irish people to humanitarian aid and relief is of course strongly related to our own past struggle with hunger, engrained in our collective memory. It is an example of the Irishness we wish to be known by, one grounded in decency, in ethical principles, taking our share of global responsibility.


We have a moral and ethical responsibility to support our global family in dire need, to help with sustainable solutions to ending all famines, wherever they occur on our shared, vulnerable planet, and to provide a decisive response to climate change which itself is leading to an increased incidence of famines globally. The parallels with An Gorta Mór and the mass displacement it caused 175 years ago must not be lost on us. We have a moral duty to continue to honour our commitments to those vulnerable and displaced who seek asylum and refuge on our shores.”



Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee said today:


The Great Famine fundamentally altered this country, and its people, in so many ways. Today’s ceremony allows us to solemnly remember the devastating impact on the millions of people who suffered, died, or emigrated. The National Famine Commemoration is a key event for ensuring that this legacy is honoured.”


Minister Chambers, who will attend the commemoration on behalf of the Government, said:


“It is particularly appropriate that today’s event is being held here in Donegal, where the impact of the Great Famine and its legacy of emigration shaped the lives of its communities and people for too long. But today is also an opportunity to honour the courage and determination of those who were forced to leave these shores. Despite the challenges and horrors they faced, they flourished and created a thriving diaspora which continues to maintain its connection to Ireland”.



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Notes to Editor:


Ceremonial Running Order


National Famine Commemoration

Milford, Co. Donegal

21 May 2023



13:15            Performance by Band 2 Brigade


13:30            Guard of Honour march on Parade


13:50            Arrival of Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Councillor Liam Blaney


                    Arrival of Jack Chambers T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Transport & Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications.


14:00            Arrival of the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins


Inspection of the 28th Infantry Battalion Guard of Honour


Ceremony begins:

14:05            Welcome Address by Jack Chambers T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Transport & Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications.


                     Address by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins


                    Music: Noreen Bawn, performed by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Maoil Ruaidh


                    Reading: A selection of local Famine stories from the 1930s School Folklore Collection, read by Eithne Ní Ghallchobhair


                    Song: Dún Do Shúil, performed by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, accompanied by Steve Cooney, Guitar


                    Poem: At a Potato Digging, by Seamus Heaney.

                    Read by Conaill Byrne and Aoibheann Shields from Mulroy College, Milford, and Eilish Russell and David Kennedy from Loreto Community School, Milford


Prayers for the Victims of the Famine, led by Chaplain to the Defence Forces, Fr. Jerry Carroll


15:00            MC announces the commencement of the formal State commemoration

                    Unveiling of commemorative stone and planting of Common Oak tree by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, assisted by Alessandra Serra from Ayr Hill NS and Nathan King from Creeslough NS

                    Wreath laying ceremony


                    Minute of silence observed for all those who died


                    Piper’s Lament


                    Last Post


                    National Flag raised to full mast




                    National Anthem


15:15            Ceremony concludes



Music: A selection of barndances, slides and waltzes commonly played at American wakes and house dances in Donegal and associated with the fiddle playing of Jim Doherty, of Legnahoorey, Kilmacrennan (1937 – 2012), Jim McFadden’s Barndance, John McGee’s Slide, Pull Down the Blind (Waltz), The Marine (Jig), performed by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Maoil Ruaidh




Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Maoil Ruaidh musicians are:

Anne Ferry, Fiddle

Kathleen Crerand, Fiddle

Martin McGinley, Fiddle

Patrick McBride, Button Accordion

Mick Denieffe, Button Accordion

Gráinne Friel, Botton Accordion

Kevin Gallagher, Button Accordion

Oisín Sweeney, Button Accordion

John McFadden, Banjo

Geraldine McCluskey, Whistle, Flute







**Scaipfidh Clive Wasson íomhánna tar éis deireadh an tsearmanais - [email protected]**


  21 Bealtaine, 2023



Cuimhneachán Náisiúnta an Ghorta Mhóir ar siúl i mBaile na nGallóglach, Co Dhún na nGall


Tá an tUachtarán, Mícheál D. Ó hUiginn, ag feidhmiú inniu (Dé Domhnaigh 21 Bealtaine) ag Cuimhneachán Náisiúnta an Ghorta Mhóir i mBaile na nGallóglach, Co. Dhún na nGall. Beidh Jack Chambers, Aire Stáit sa Roinn Iompair agus an Roinn Comhshaoil, Aeráide & Cumarsáide, i láthair thar ceann an Rialtais.


Tabharfaidh an tUachtarán Ó hUiginn an príomhaitheasc ag an searmanas foirmiúil Stáit, agus beidh onóracha míleata agus searmanas leagan bláthfhleasc ann i gcuimhne orthu siúd go léir a fuair bás le linn an Ghorta Mhóir. Tabharfaidh an tAire Chambers aitheasc ag an ócáid ​​freisin.


Chomh maith leis an Uachtarán, déanfaidh A Shoilse, An tUrramach Luis Mariano Montemayor, Apostolic Nuncio, Déan an Chóir Taidhleoireachta, agus an Comhairleoir Liam Blaney Cathaoirleach Chomhairle Contae Dhún na nGall bláthfhleasca a leagan, freisin.


Ceoltóirí áitiúla ó Chomhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Maoil Ruaidh a chuirfidh an ceol ar fáil ag an ócáid agus seinnfidh Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, fidléir agus amhránaí le Altan, an suantraí traidisiúnta ‘Dún do Shúil’ in éineacht leis an ngiotáraí Steve Cooney. Craolfar an searmanas poiblí freisin ar chainéal Nuacht RTÉ.


Dúirt an tUachtarán Mícheál D. Ó hUiginn:


“Is deis é Lá Cuimhneacháin Náisiúnta an Ghorta Mhóir dúinn go léir machnamh agus cuimhne a dhéanamh ar bheatha agus fulaingt na ndaoine a mhair tríd an eachtra thragóideach sin agus an chailliúint as cuimse a bhí ann do mhuintir na hÉireann, a dtugaimid An Gorta Mór nó an tOcras Mór air. Deis atá ann freisin chun cuimhneamh orthu siúd a theith chun saol nua a chruthú thar lear, agus machnamh a dhéanamh ar na ceachtanna is fearr a d’fhéadfaimis a fhoghlaim as an meabhrú sin, agus conas a d’fhéadfadh tionchar a bheith aige ar ár saol anois agus ar shaol daoine eile. Feileann suíomh na bliana seo san áit a raibh teach na mbocht i mBaile na nGallóglach, tráth, i bhfianaise an aimhleasa a d’fhulaing muintir Dhún na nGall leis an mbochtaineacht, an ocras agus an eisimirce ó thús deireadh an 19ú haois agus go háirithe le linn an Ghorta Mhóir.


Tá oidhreacht an Ghorta Mhóir casta, domhain, leathan, agus tá go leor snáitheanna ann a chuaigh i bhfeidhm ar shíceolaíocht mhuintir na hÉireann ag leibhéal comhchoiteann agus ag leibhéal an duine aonair. Eisimirce neamhthoiliúil, caillteanas cultúrtha, lagú meanma agus féinmhuiníne: is gnéithe iad sin d’oidhreacht an Ghorta Mhóir. Cailleadh sciar mór den daonra agus bhí tionchar nach beag aige ar labhairt na Gaeilge. Feictear a rian ó shin ar an tír, agus ar shaol mhuintir na hÉireann. Mar gheall ar an tionchar bunúsach a bhí ag an gcuid seo dár stair orainn, tréimhse nach bhfuil chomh fada siar sin, is furasta an luí atá againn mar phobal leis na saincheisteanna leanúnacha a bhaineann le slándáil bia agus ceannasacht bia ar fud an domhain a thuiscint. Caithfidh na gnéithe sin a bheith mar chuid dár machnamh eiticiúil agus dár fhreagairt ar chomóradh thréimhse an Ghorta Mhóir. Ar ndóigh tá baint mhór ag tiomantas láidir mhuintir na hÉireann do chúnamh daonnúil agus faoiseamh daonnúil lenár streachailt féin leis an ocras san am atá caite, streachailt atá fite fuaite isteach inár gcuimhne chomhchoiteann. Is sainchomhartha é den aitheantas is mian linn a bheith againn mar Éireannaigh, aitheantas atá fréamhaithe i mbunbhéasa, i bprionsabail eiticiúla, inár gcion féin den fhreagracht dhomhanda a ghlacadh.


Tá freagracht mhorálta agus eiticiúil orainn tacú lenár dteaghlach domhanda atá i gcruachás, cabhrú chun réitigh inbhuanaithe a chur i bhfeidhm chun deireadh a chur le gorta, cibé áit a dtarlaíonn sé ar an bplainéad leochaileach seo ar a mairimid uile, agus chun freagra cinntitheach a thabhairt ar an athrú aeráide is cúis leis an méadú mór ar ghorta ar fud an domhain. Ní mór dúinn aird a thabhairt ar na cosúlachtaí idir domhan an lae inniu agus aimsir an Ghorta Mhóir agus an oll-dhíláithrithe a tharla 175 bliain ó shin. Tá sé de dhualgas morálta orainn leanúint ar aghaidh ag comhlíonadh ár dtiomantas do dhaoine leochaileacha agus easáitithe a thagann chun na tíre seo ag iarraidh tearmainn agus dídine.”



Dúirt Catherine Martin, an tAire Turasóireachta, Cultúir, Ealaíon, Gaeltachta, Spóirt agus Meán, agus Cathaoirleach Choiste Cuimhneacháin Náisiúnta an Ghorta Mhóir inniu:


D’athraigh an Gorta Mór an tír seo agus a muintir go bunúsach ar go leor bealaí. Tugann searmanas an lae inniu deis dúinn cuimhneamh go sollúnta ar an tionchar tubaisteach a bhí aige ar na milliúin duine a d’fhulaing, a fuair bás nó a chuaigh ar imirce. Is príomhimeacht é Cuimhneachán Náisiúnta an Ghorta Mhóir le cinntiú go dtugtar ómós don oidhreacht seo.”


Dúirt an tAire Chambers, a bheidh i láthair ag an gcomóradh thar ceann an Rialtais:


“Tá sé thar a bheith feiliúnach go bhfuil imeacht an lae inniu á reáchtáil anseo i nDún na nGall, áit ar mhúnlaigh tionchar an Ghorta Mhóir agus oidhreacht na heisimirce saol an phobail ann le fada an lá. Ach is deis é inniu freisin chun ómós a thabhairt do mhisneach agus diongbháilteacht na ndaoine ar cuireadh iallach orthu ár dtír a fhágáil. In ainneoin na ndúshlán agus na n-uafás a bhí rompu, tháinig rath orthu agus chruthaigh siad diaspóra faoi bhláth a choinníonn a nasc le hÉirinn”.






Minister Martin Announces the Date and Location of this Year’s National Famine Commemoration

Catherine Martin T.D., Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee has today (23 February) announced that this year's National Famine Commemoration will take place on Sunday 21st May 2023 in Milford, Co. Donegal. 


This is the third time the State Commemoration has taken place in Ulster.  The public ceremony, which will be broadcast on the RTÉ News Now channel, will provide an opportunity for the people of Donegal to honour the suffering and loss of the Great Famine and to remember those who fled to create new lives abroad. It will feature National flag and military honours before culminating in a solemn wreath-laying ceremony.


Schools around the country will be invited to hold a minute of silent reflection on Friday 19th May in memory of those who perished during the Great Famine, while sporting organisations will be invited to observe a minute of silent reflection at sporting and public events taking place on the weekend of the Commemoration.


Speaking today Minister Martin said:

“The National Famine Commemoration is a special opportunity for the current generation to acknowledge the suffering, death, and anguish borne by the Irish people during that darkest time of our history."


She continued,

“The choice of Donegal as host for the 2023 National Famine Commemoration is particularly welcome given the deferral of the hosting of the 2020 event in Donegal due to the pandemic. It is appropriate that the event will take place on the old site of the Milford workhouse, given the adversity endured by the people of Donegal in the face of poverty, hunger and emigration throughout the Great Famine and the 19th century. The Commemoration will reflect on this momentous event in Irish history and remember all those who suffered as a result of An Gorta Mór.”


Minister Martin also expressed her appreciation for the work of the members of the National Famine Commemoration Committee for their commitment in ensuring both that the events and impacts of the Great Famine are fittingly remembered, and that the survival and flourishing of those who emigrated, and of their many descendants abroad, are justly celebrated. 


The Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Liam Blaney said

“We are honoured that Donegal will have the opportunity to host the National Famine Commemoration ceremony in 2023.  We look forward to working closely with the Minister’s Department and encouraging the active participation of our local community. Together we will ensure a fitting commemoration on this catastrophic time in Irish history.”


Press Release Issued 23rd February 2023.


Please check back for updates in the lead up to May 21st 2023

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