President of Ireland Attends Exhibition Opening

The President of Ireland speaks to a crowd of people during the launch of the Art and the Great Hunger exhibition in Dublin

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or the first time ever, our Famine-art collection Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger has come home to Ireland, where it will be exhibited at Dublin Castle until June 30th. 

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, attended the launch on March 7th, where he gave an address to over 200 guests and welcomed the artworks to Ireland for the first time.

After a private tour of the exhibition with Niamh O'Sullivan, Curator, John L. Lahey, President of Quinnipiac University, and with members of Ireland's Great Hunger Museum Board, the President spoke, reflecting on the exhibition, and on An Gorta Mór saying: “The power of art and the creative industries furthers a sense of shared meaning and identity within society, encouraging people to remember, reflect and engage with the full richness of our history and the diversity of our people.”

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Since his inauguration, President Higgins has referred to the Great Irish Famine on numerous occasions, both at home and abroad. He has called An Gorta Mór a defining moment in the history of modern Ireland, and has actively supported a large number of initiatives that further our understanding of that tragic chapter in our past.

The President thanked those who contributed to bringing our collection of historical and contemporary art and literature to Irish shores. He said: “The exhibition would not be here today without the tireless commitment of Dr. John Lahey, the President of Quinnipiac University, a university which has emerged as a leading centre of understanding of An Gorta Mór through the establishment of the Great Hunger Museum.”

He continued saying: “This is an exhibition that reflects not only the centrality of the Famine... as a defining event in the making of modern Ireland but as one of the defining events in nineteenth-century global history. It is of immense importance too to those studying the evolution of economic theory and its effect on policy, and of course it is the source of an enduring bond between the citizens of this country and millions of American citizens who today are proud of their Irish descent.”

The exhibition displays works from Jack B. Yeats, Daniel MacDonald, Paul Henry, Brian Maguire, Dorothy Cross and William Crozier, and others demonstrate how artists responded to the worst humanitarian crisis of 19th-century Europe.  Exhibition on view until June 30th at The Coach House, Dublin Castle, and from July 20th at West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen. Admission is free.