Skibbereen hosts two Famine exhibitions

Two major art exhibitions that commemorate the Famine have gone on display in Skibbereen, West Cork.

One is a sculpture dedicated to more than 100 girls who fled the Great Hunger to settle in Australia; the other an extensive collection of works featuring some of Ireland’s most famous artists.

Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger, the world’s largest collection of Famine-related art, has been launched at a reception at Uillinn, West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen. 

The exhibition is open to the public following a residency at Dublin Castle earlier this year and runs as part of a programme of cultural events until October 13.

Sent by Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University, its permanent home in Connecticut, the collection features selected artworks from 50 of Ireland’s most eminent artists, including Jack B Yeats, Alanna O’Kelly, Robert Ballagh, Dorothy Cross, and William Crozier.

Launching the exhibition, RTÉ director general Dee Forbes said: “Those that were lost, sacrificed, and abandoned are remembered and honoured among us in Coming Home.”

West Cork Arts Centre director Ann Davoren said the exhibition was an opportunity for the people of Cork and visitors to the region to experience the art collection in Skibbereen.

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum director Ryan Mahoney said they are honoured to bring the exhibition to Skibbereen.

“To include Skibbereen on the tour, an area that is synonymous with the Great Hunger, was important to all that are involved with this project,” he said.

The town is also the focus of a year-long project exploring the poignant story of 110 girls from Skibbereen who fled the Famine for Australia in 1848. A bronze sculpture dedicated to them by Toma McCullim has been unveiled at Skibbereen Hospital.

Attending the unveiling were Judith Constable and her daughter Katriona, who are Australian descendants of Jane Leary, one of the girls sent to Australia through Earl Gray’s Famine Orphan Scheme.


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