THE county Offaly Commemoration of Irish Famine Victims held a ‘Memorial Day’ for the victims of the Great Famine on Sunday, May 20.
During the Famine period 1845-1851 the population of Ireland dropped by over 2 million people due to deaths from starvation and disease and emigration.
The ‘Memorial Day’ started with mass in the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Kilcormac for all those who died as a result of the Famine.
At the Green in Cadamstown, local historian Paddy Heaney outlined the devastating effects the famine had in the area which it never recovered from.
He stated he was delighted by the attendance of many young people who he said would continue to remember all the famine victims in future years.
He then laid a wreath with the youngest person present Pearce Nolan on the Famine plot.
At the famine Burial Ground in Ballyboy the national flag was raised to half-mast by Joe Lynch in memory of the famine victims buried here.
A large crowd turned up at Ralehin Graveyard Mount bolus and Michael Blanch, Chairman of National Commemoration of Irish Famine Victims praised the Daly family for restoring and keeping the graveyard in such great condition.
Both he and Ann Daly then laid a wreath and Tess Murray offered prayers for all buried there.
The 4km Famine walk began from the graveyard in Ballyboy. At Ballyboy Bridge more people joined the walkers.
County Offaly Civil Defence Colour Party then led the walkers, followed by piper John Leamy, the school children and the rest of the attendees to the Ballyboy Burial Ground. Some of these were dressed as people would have dressed during the famine times.
At the burial ground PRO for the Offaly Commemoration Group, Denis O’Driscoll welcomed the attendees. He stated that it was very heartening to see so many people turn up to remember all those who perished during that sad period in Irish history.
He also stated that the Irish were very grateful for the help given to the people during the famine and today we are not forgetting today’s famine victims and invited people to contribute to a collection which will go the famine victims in Niger. A light of hope was presented by Elaine Lynch, the hope being that Ireland would never suffer from a famine again.
Fr Joe Gallagher then offered prayers for all buried in the Famine Burial Ground and for all our dead. Caroline Bracken sang the ‘Isle of Hope’ song which captured all the emigrants who left Ireland during the Famine and even in the present day.
A bunch of wild flowers was laid by Vera Hayden at the Commemoration Stone and a minutes silence was observed in memory of all who died during the famine.
Margaret Lynch thanked all who had made the day possible through their help and their attendance.
The National flag was then raised to full mast and the pupils of Scoil Naomh Bride were joined by all in singing the National Anthem.