On Sunday March 30th the 2014 Famine Commemoration Programme of Events was launched in Strokestown. This year Strokestown was selected by the National Famine Commemoration Committee to host the National Famine Commemoration. A ten day programme of events will take place starting on May 2nd in the lead up to the National Commemoration Event on May 11th. Everyone is invited to Strokestown to enjoy and participate in the events which are free of charge.
Speaking at the launch the Mayor of County Roscommon Cllr. Martin Connaughton said 'It is a great honour and privilege for County Roscommon to be chosen to host the National Famine Commemoration in 2014'. Events include a literary festival, famine exhibitions, library displays, lectures, bus tour, talks and readings , children's workshops, schools' art exhibition, talks on genealogy, wreath laying and the famine wall unveiling. A full listing of all events is in the Famine Commemoration Programme and is available at libraries and businesses throughout the county and by contacting Roscommon County Council at 090 6637 316 and on line at www.roscommoncoco.ie.
The highlight of the week, the National Famine Commemoration takes place on Sunday May 11th at Strokestown Park at 2.30 pm. This event is open to the public and everyone is invited to come along to the solemn and fitting commemoration of the Great Famine.
Kathleen Martin, Director of services said 'The Great Irish Famine was one of the most catastrophic events in Irish History when the population of County Roscommon decreased by over 80,000 people between 1841 and 1851. This represented the highest population loss (31%) of any county in the country' She went on to say that 'as a local authority, with a strong sense of our cultural, historical, heritage and community identity Roscommon County Council is committed to fostering an appreciation and understanding of events that shaped our County and recognize the opportunity this National Famine Commemoration presents to highlight the very real impact of the famine in County Roscommon'.
Planning for the Famine Commemoration event started last September when an application was made to the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Since then Strokestown Community Development Association together with Roscommon County Council, Strokestown Park House and NUI Maynooth have been working to compile this very fitting and extensive programme of events.
Minister Jimmy Deenihan, who launched the programme of events, complimented Roscommon on its application to the National Famine Commemoration Committee saying 'it was one of the best applications every received'. He acknowledged the important role the Famine Museum in Strokestown has played in keeping the famine story alive. 'It is a well known fact that the people of Strokestown have worked tirelessly over the last 20 years to ensure that the victims of the Great Irish Famine are remembered in a dignified and respectful way' the Minister said. The Minister concluded by saying that 'the programme will be a great success and a fitting tribute to the victims of the Great Irish Famine'.
Mr. Jim Callery, Strokestown Park House said that 'without all the help and support from the state and the County, Strokestown Park and the Famine Museum wouldn't be here today'. This year the Famine Museum celebrates being twenty years open'.
Dr. Ciaran Reilly from NUI Maynooth said 'NUI Maynooth is delighted to be working with Strokestown and the people of Roscommon on this event'. He said he was 'fortunate to have access to the Strokestown papers on the famine which included 50,000 papers' and 'these have given great insight into the plight of the ordinary people at this time in Ireland'. Dr Reilly opens an exhibition 'The Famine Irish: Faces from County Roscommon on Monday May 5th at 8.30pm at Strokestown Park House.
Cllr. Eugene Murphy speaking as chairperson of Strokestown Community Development Association said 'the people of Strokestown showed great determination in the Gathering event they organized in 2013 and the Famine Commemoration event would be equally as good'. He said 'the groups that have come together in Strokestown to organize the Famine Commemoration like the Tidy Towns, the Poetry Festival, the Historical and Archaeological Society, the Agricultural Show and many musical groups like Comhaltas Ceoltóirí, the choral group and the Solstice Choir are working hard to make this an event to remember'.
The progamme with information on all the events is available at libraries and businesses throughout the county and by contacting Roscommon County Council at 090 6637316 and on line at www.roscommoncoco.ie.
For further information contact Una Ni Chuinn 090 6632543 or 087 9196692