Culture: UCC selected to host Annual National Famine Commemoration

President Higgins to attend Annual National Famine Commemoration in UCC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         (Photo: Tomás Tyner)  

University College Cork has been selected to host the Annual National Famine Commemoration in May.

The Commemoration will run from Wednesday, May 9th to Sunday, May 13th, and will feature a series of public events based on the Great Irish Famine and global hunger today.

President Michael D. Higgins will be in attendance to formally commence the official State Commemoration ceremony, along with a number of Government ministers, members of the Dáil and Seanad, local authorities, and ambassadors. Josepha Madigan TD, Minister for Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht, will host the State Commemoration on behalf of the Government.

President Higgins will lay a wreath on behalf of the Irish people, to remember those who suffered and perished during the Famine. The President will also unveil a plaque and plant a tree as part of the ceremony. Ambassadors from the diplomatic missions represented in Ireland will also lay wreaths.

The President’s participation in the State Commemoration follows a formal presentation of the Atlas of the Irish Revolution at Áras an Uachtaráin, by Cork University Press and the Atlas editors, earlier this year. At the presentation, President Higgins hailed both the Atlas of the Irish Revolution and the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine as ‘must-read’ books for every Irish household.

The Great Irish Famine is the key focus of the Commemoration, with a series of events planned around this important period in Ireland’s history.

                                                                                                                                                                                                         (Photo: Maxwell Photography)  

Events will include the unveiling of a mud cabin, which housed some of Ireland’s poorest people during Famine times. A reconstruction of this ‘fourth class house’ has been built on the university campus and will be unveiled by President of UCC, Patrick O’Shea.

The launch of the Great Irish Famine Online, a digital resource which allows members of the public to discover how the Famine affected their families and communities, will also be launched during the Commemoration. This will coincide with a lecture by UCC’s Mike Murphy; ‘Mapping the Great Irish Famine’.

The topic of famine beyond Irish waters will be explored through a conference on Global Hunger Today, featuring Dr Shenggen Fan (DG International Food Policy Research Institute) and leading writers on famine, Prof Alex de Waal and Cormac Ó Gráda.

The Commemoration will also feature the visit of the LÉ William Butler Yeats, an offshore patrol vessel of the Irish Naval Service, which played a key role in the rescue of 285 people in the Mediterranean.

Cork City Council and Cork County Council have organised a series of lectures, exhibitions and events to complement the national commemoration.

For more information, please follow this link.

Required reading: President Higgins hails Atlas of the Irish Revolution as 'must-have' book

 President of UCC, Patrick O'Shea, and the editors of the Atlas of the Irish Revolution present President Michael D. Higgins and wife Sabina with their new favourite book. (Photo: Maxwell Photography)


President Michael D. Higgins has hailed Cork University Press’ award-winning Atlas of the Irish Revolution as a must-have book for every Irish household.

“He said that if Irish households were only able to have two books, they should be the Atlas of the Great Irish Famine and the Atlas of the Irish Revolution,” says Mike Collins, Publications Director at CUP.

President Higgins was speaking at a ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin, where he was presented with a copy of the Atlas of the Irish Revolution by UCC President, Patrick O’Shea.

Acclaimed as ‘the surprise bestseller of the year’, the Atlas of the Irish Revolution has garnered phenomenal success since its release in late 2017.

"If you could only have two books, they should be The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine and The Atlas of the Irish Revolution"

The culmination of five years’ work by four editors [UCC’s Donal Ó Drisceoil, John Borgonovo, John Crowley and Mike Murphy] and 105 main contributors, the Atlas has sold over 23,000 copies and claimed some of the industry’s top accolades - including Best Irish Book of the Year.

In an age where digital reigns, just why has the Atlas proven so popular among Irish readers?

“I think it’s the marriage of text, scholarship and such high visual imagery in the maps,” offers Mike Collins.

“Of the over 300 maps, most of them are brand new – no one’s ever seen them before.”


Atlas editors John Crowley, Mike Murphy, Donal Ó Drisceoil and John Borgonovo with CUP's Maria O'Donovan and Mike Collins 

Gráinne Killeen, PR specialist, adds that the Atlas appeals to ‘an interest in people’s own personal histories’.

“I think that’s a very big pull – people wondering, ‘What was my granddad doing during the Civil War?’” she says.

This interest has transcended age, too. Thanks to the Atlas’ success, a spin-off schools project will soon launch, offering free modules to secondary school students.

The modules - created for Junior Certificate, Transition Year, and Leaving Certificate students - will be available to download online.

The importance of the text at a national level has also been acknowledged by the Government, which has provided a copy of the Atlas for every public library in Ireland.

This means that the Atlas is now accessible to every Irish citizen,” says Gráinne.

For more information on Cork University Press and the Atlas of the Irish Revolution, simply follow this link.

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