An Gorta Mor – Irish Famine Memorial
The Irish Famine was a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland as a result of a potato blight disease which devastated crops. As a direct consequence of the famine, the Irish population fell by approximately 25 per cent, with the death of up to one million people, and emigration of another two million.
In 2017, the City of Subiaco and the Western Australian Irish Famine Commemoration (WAIFC) worked together to establish a memorial to the Irish Famine of 1845-1852, in Market Square Subiaco. The memorial was unveiled on 9 October 2017 by The President of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D. Higgins.
About the artwork
This memorial commemorates the Great Irish Famine and the impact this had on Australia. The memorial takes the form of a Celtic double spiral motif representing the winding and unwinding of birth and death, expressed as a spiritual walked labyrinth cut in red granite symbolic of Australia and green granite symbolic of Ireland.
This draws the visitor inexorably on a journey of grief, remembrance and ultimately discovery into the heart of the design, while meditating on the Famine Prayer inlaid into the paving.
The spiral leads to the bronze sculpture of the keening childless mother, which is a personification of Uaigneas, the eternal expression of loneliness in the Irish language, voicing the enormous sense of inconsolable loss and emptiness of parents left behind.
The green granite base is encased in a Celtic knotwork band, symbolic of the intertwining of both cultures.
About the artist
Artist Joan Walsh Smith and Charles Smith created a bronze sculpture of a keening childless mother sitting in the centre of a Celtic spiral.
Pictured: President of Ireland, His Excellency Michael D. Higgins unveils the Irish Famine Memorial.