Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Irish Hunger Memorial
One of the gems of Battery Park City is the Irish Hunger Memorial, located at the corner Vesey St. and North End Ave. The creation of artist Brian Tolle, the Memorial was designed to increase awareness of the Irish potato famine that began in 1845, while also calling attention to the current issue of famine in our society. (The famine ultimately contributed to the deaths of approximately one million people in Ireland, while an additional million emigrated, most to the U.S.) The Memorial includes stones from each of Ireland's 32 counties, as well as native vegetation from western Ireland. (The wildflowers, foxglove and little white roses were incredible, giving one the impression of walking through an Irish landscape - right in the heart of downtown Manhattan.) In the middle of the Memorial stands the ruins of a stone cottage, brought from Ireland and reconstructed on the site. From the overlook that faces the Hudson River one can look out to the Statue of Liberty as well as Ellis Island, where so many victims of the famine arrived. I had completely forgotten about the Memorial, but finally remembered reading about its 2002 dedication. It's a bit "off the beaten path," even for the tourists who swarm over the nearby "Ground Zero" site of the World Trade Center towers. In fact, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon there were only a handful of people visiting the Memorial. I'll definitely return, camera in hand, to see how the place changes with the seasons.