Minister to visit Australia to commemorate famine victims

Minister Jimmy Deenihan is to travel to Sydney, Australia to lead the ceremonies for the 2013 International Commemoration of the Great Irish Famine.

The main event will take place in Hyde Park Barracks on Sunday, when he will meet the descendants of Irish orphan girls who travelled to Australia during the famine.

More than 4,000 women and girls went from workhouses between 1848 and 1850 under the Earl Grey Scheme in search of hope and a new beginning.

Mr Deenihan said the trip will also celebrate the tremendous impact that Irish emigrants have made to their adopted homeland.

“A key aim of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, which I chair, is also to raise awareness of famine issues all over the world,” the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said.

“The legacy of the famine in Ireland includes a deep compassion felt by Irish people for those who suffer from hunger in today’s world.

“Ireland’s historical experience of hunger underlies the Irish Government’s strong commitment to tackling global hunger – at its roots and on a long-term basis.”

Victims of the Great Famine and those forced to emigrate for a new life will be remembered during a series of events this week.

This is the fifth international famine commemoration, with previous ones held in Boston, New York, Liverpool and Canada.

Ireland’s national famine commemoration was held in Kilrush, Co Clare, in May.

During his trip Mr Deenihan will officially launch the “Atlas of the Great Irish Famine” at the State Library in Sydney, and speak at a seminar on the Great Irish Famine in Parliament House.

He will also host a business networking breakfast, visit the Celtic Studies Department of the University of Sydney and Sydney Cricket Ground and meet Irish seniors at the drop-in service at the Irish Australian welfare bureau.

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