Sep 19 2012 By Joe McGuire
Dublin Famine Memorial Image 2
Dublin's haunting memorial to Famine victims, above.
GLASGOW is one step closer to a memorial for those who died during the Irish Potato famine.
The city council agreed last week to establish a working group to discuss a tribute to those who died as a consequence of the famine and those who migrated to escape starvation.
The proposed memorial will also commemorate Highlands victims as well as recognising those suffering hunger today.
Remembering this tragic chapter in history will bring Glasgow in line with other cities who took in people fleeing An Gorta Mór, The Great Hunger.
The SNP’s Feargal Dalton secured the agreement of fellow councillors that the famine has had a significant cultural, economic and social impact on the modern day character of Glasgow.
Mr Dalton, representative for Partick, said: “The Great Hunger saw thousands arrive in Glasgow from both Ireland and the Highlands and Islands and they gave this city its Celtic characteristics - and when they arrived Glaswegians gave generously.
“Yet, Glasgow is the one major world city where there continues to be a large Irish diaspora which has no permanent memorial.
“This motion will take us closer to marking the sacrifices of the past up to the present day, while recognising the positive benefits brought to our city by migration over many years.
“A memorial will highlight that in a world of continuing poverty and famine, Glasgow is very firmly on the side of justice and is a beacon of hope to those in the world who continue to suffer.”
An Gorta Mór was a period of mass starvation, emigration and disease in the 1800s during which at least one million died and an estimated million more left Ireland.
The nature of the memorial and where it may be sited have yet to be decided upon, but it is hoped the working group will begin work within weeks and make a report on its recommendations by the end of next summer.
Bailie Scanlon, who seconded the motion for a memorial, said: “Both the Irish and Highland famines drew thousands and thousands of migrants to Glasgow in a state of desperate need.
“These tragic events have had a huge influence on our city and it is right that they are commemorated.
“It remains to be seen how any memorial will take shape but I’m sure that its message will remain relevant for now and the future.
“Glasgow continues to welcome people from all over the world who come in search of sanctuary and I’m pleased there is a commitment to see this reflected in the completed memorial.”
The chief executive of the Federation of Irish Societies, Jennie McShannon, said that a memorial would be a fitting reminder of the horrific experiences of famine and the succour offered by the Scots people.
She said: “The steady flow of people between Ireland and Scotland over centuries is well documented, yet there was such as significant number of Irish who sought refuge and respite during the famine that it stands out as one of the most noted periods of migration, in particular to Glasgow.
"The descendants of those who fled An Gorta Mor today contribute to the rich cultural mix of arts, sports, business and community in Glasgow and beyond and are an intrinsic part of the cities vibrancy and as such we welcome the council’s decision to establish a working group on this."
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