National Famine Commemoration 2020

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National Famine Commemoration 2020

This year’s National Famine Commemoration was held in a very peaceful St Stephen’s Green in Dublin instead of the planned much larger scale commemoration in Donegal. Like so many other special events across the country with Covid 19 constrictions the annual commemoration had to be changed and instead took place in Dublin.

However watching Josepha Madigan T.D., Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee speak in front of sculptor Edward Delaney’s famine figures, she perfectly captured the resonance between past and present during this public health emergency.

This was a quiet and dignified commemoration and I found it a moving reminder of famine times.  Just as all funerals are currently limited to only a few mourners, only a small handful of people attended the commemoration.

The Minister spoke of those who in trying times both now and then have come to the aid of their fellow man. The unselfish care provided by nurses and doctors to those stricken with fever during the Great Famine, with the same unwavering qualities of care and commitment to others being shown by healthcare staff today as they help the sick.

I was really pleased as talking about Famine Heroes she gave a great mention to Doctor Dan Donovan of Skibbereen, a man who is very much one of my heroes and played such an important part in my new  book

The Minister quoted from Ireland’s great female poet, Eavan Boland’s poem ‘Quarantine’, which is set during Ireland’s Great Hunger, where a man lifts his weak and dying wife onto his back and carries her. The recently deceased poets’ words speaking of man’s ability to help those in need of lifting during troubled times.

In 2021 the National Famine Commemoration will take place in Buncrana in Donegal.

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 Edward Delaney’s Famine Memorial – 1967,  St Stephens Green, Dublin  

St Brigid’s Day and Herstory!

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St Brigid’s Day on 1st February has always been a special day as here in Ireland we celebrate the first day of spring and new life and fertility and creativity.   I usually try to follow tradition and get my hands on some rushes or reeds to make a simple St Brigid’s cross, our national emblem. However St Brigid’s Day and the coming days will have special focus with the launch of HERSTORY, as all across Ireland from Dublin to Derry, Wexford to Kerry as buildings and monuments will be illuminated over the weekend with portraits of inspirational Irish women, who have left their mark in history, along with a wide variety of events all across the country.

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Marita  with Caroilin Callery

Attending the launch of HERSTORY in Dublin’s Epic Museum it did my heart good to hear about this fantastic new creative project founded by Melanie Lynch of HERSTORY and RTE, Dublin’s Epic Museum and Underground Films, all of them coming together to finally bring recognition of brave intelligent women from all strands of life, science, art, dance, aviation, medicine who have made an invaluable but often over looked contribution to the world.

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Melanie Lynch, Jessica Traynor,  Dee Forde and Dr Norah Patten  

This is all part of an exciting new project  which is spearheaded with the launch of RTE Television’s  HERSTORY , a six part documentary about incredible Irish women , many who have been forgotten which starts on Monday 3d February. RTE Junior will also show six animated films for younger viewers about inspiring Irish women. ‘Blazing a Trail’ an exhibition about many of these amazing heroines is running at Epic.

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‘The Hungry Road’ Book Launch

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Pat Donlon, Marita and Fiona Murphy of Transworld Ireland

Exciting times with the launch of my new book The Hungry Road at Eason’s book shop in Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre in Dublin on Thursday.  It was great to see so many friends and family brave the elements to come along to celebrate with me on this very special night.    My agent, Caroline Sheldon came all the way from London to cheer me on.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my wonderful publisher Fiona Murphy of Transworld Ireland who encouraged me every step of the way with this epic novel about The Great Hunger. My friend Pat Donlon, former director of The National Library of Ireland kindly agreed to launch ‘The Hungry Road’ for me.  I felt it was serendipity as she has played such a big part in my writing career and was the one who launched my first book ‘Under the Hawthorn Tree’.

Thank you to Eason’s who looked after the large crowd really well. They have always been so kind and so supportive to me over all my years of writing and publishing.

The launch party continued as the merry crew made our way to Davy Byrne’s to mark the occasion of the publication of The Hungry Road.  A heartfelt thanks to everyone for helping to make it such a memorable  book launch.

Caroline Sheldon, Pat Donlon, Marita and Fiona Murphy.      P.L. Lynch and Marita