Launch of ‘Heroes of Ireland’s Great Hunger’

Kindred Spirits by Alex Pentek. Middleton Co.Cork

It was a great privilege to take part only a few days ago in the virtual launch of ‘Heroes of Ireland’s Great Hunger’ by the Irish consulate in New York on 2nd September.

Launched by Vice Consul Sean O’Aodha, there were 19 of us contributors to the book speaking from all over the world.

With so many also attending the launch it truly was global occasion.

This ground breaking volume edited by Professor Christine Kinealy, Jason King and Gerard Moran examines the role of the many heroes from all walks of life, the men and women who helped and assisted the starving and sick during the long years of the Great Hunger often risking their own health and life to alleviate the suffering of strangers.

‘Heroes of Ireland’s Great Hunger’ features heroes, from Ireland, Australia, Canada, England and America whose contribution and work helping others have been forgotten or overlooked but are now getting the recognition they so deserve. I was very honoured to be asked to contribute a chapter on Doctor Daniel Donovan, the’ Famine Doctor’ from Skibbereen whose incredible story and Diary of a DispensaryDoctor’ made me sit down and write my Famine novel ‘The Hungry Road’.

I happened to be down in Cork for the launch and only earlier that day visited Middleton to see Kindred Spirits, artist Alex Pentek’s striking steel sculpture of nine giant feathers reaching to the sky.

This sculpture acknowledges our thanks to the Choctaw Nation for their kindness to our ancestors in 1847 during the Great Famine. Despite being  dispossessed of their own sacred  lands and sent  on an enforced march ‘ The Trail of Tears’ , to Oklahoma on which many died,  the Choctaw Nation sent $170.00 to help the starving  victims of famine in Ireland .

Le Anne Howe and Padraig Kirwan write of this generosity of spirit in the book. 

‘Heroes’ is published by Quinnipiac University Press and Cork University Press.