The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, will tomorrow (Tuesday) travel to Atlanta and New Orleans for the International Famine Commemoration. This is the 6th International Famine Commemoration. Previous events have taken place in Sydney, Boston, New York, Liverpool and Toronto.
Minister Humphreys will spend the first day of her five day trip in Atlanta, where she will visit the highly acclaimed Seamus Heaney exhibition at Emory University, deliver a keynote address on the arts as a gateway to business at an event hosted by the Irish Chamber of Commerce Atlanta, visit the National Centre for Civic and Human Rights at Centennial Park and launch a new volume of Samuel Beckett letters.
This will be followed by a four day visit to New Orleans, where the 2014 International Famine Commemoration will take place. In the years following the Famine, Irish emigrants developed a strong presence in New Orleans, many of whom have travelled there on cotton ships making return journeys from Liverpool.
During her time in New Orleans, Minister Humphreys will deliver a keynote address at the Tulane University Symposium entitled ‘Ireland and New Orleans: From the Famine to Katrina – Stories of Recovery.’ She will attend a number of Irish community events and will visit the Irish Cultural Museum of New Orleans, where she will open a special exhibition on the Famine and hunger awareness.
The impact of Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans in 2005 killing 1,500 people, and the way in which the city has recovered, will be a significant feature of Minister Humphrey’s trip. She will visit St Mary’s Dominican High School, which received significant $50,000 from the Irish Government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to restore its library. The Minister will also lay a wreath at the Hurricane Katrina Memorial on the final day of her trip.
Speaking in advance of the trip, Minister Humphreys said:
“The links between Ireland and New Orleans are striking. Thousands of Irish emigrants made the arduous journey to the Southern United States during and after the Great Hunger, many of them travelling on cotton ships from Liverpool. From 1840-1860, New Orleans had a higher per capita Irish population than Boston or Philadelphia.
“Through this week’s International Famine Commemoration, we will not only remember the victims of the Great Hunger, we will also celebrate those who emigrated to New Orleans and elsewhere in recognition of the strong links that still exist between our communities today.
“The National Famine Commemoration Committee, which I chair, also places a major focus on raising awareness of hunger and famine issues across the world today. The Irish Government has a proud tradition and a strong commitment to tackling global hunger, a commitment I believe is rooted in our legacy of famine.”
Note to Editors:
Please see below a summary of the key elements of Minister Humphreys visit to Atlanta and New Orleans.
Wednesday November 5th – Atlanta:
· Visit Seamus Heaney exhibition at Emory University and presentation of Emory Irish literary archives
· Keynote address to the Irish Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta entitled ‘Ireland & the Cultural Economy: the arts as a gateway to business & tourism’
· Visit to National Centre for Civil & Human Rights, Centennial Park
· Launch of new volume of the letters of Samuel Beckett at Emory University
Thursday November 6th – New Orleans:
· Visit to Café Reconcile, a community support and training facility for young people from at-risk communities
· Launch of the International Famine Commemoration on the Mississippi riverfront, which was the entry route for Irish emigrants
· Reception at the Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum and research centre, dedicated to preserving the culture and history of New Orleans
Friday November 7th – New Orleans:
· Keynote address at Irish Business Breakfast hosted by Louisiana Lieutenant Governor, Jay Dardenne
· Open and deliver the keynote address at the Tulane University Symposium at St. Alphonsus Art & Cultural Center ‘Ireland and New Orleans: From the Famine to Katrina – Stories of Recovery’. The symposium is being organised by Professor Laura D. Kelley of Tulane University, who has produced a new book on the Irish in New Orleans
· Visit to St. Mary’s Dominican High School, which received $50,000 from the Irish Government in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The money was used to restore the school’s library
· Visit to the ‘Irish Channel’, an area of the city where many Irish emigrants settled after the Famine
· Opening of An Gorta Mór: Great Hunger Exhibition and Hunger Awareness Art Show at the Irish Cultural Museum of New Orleans
Saturday November 8th – New Orleans:
· Irish community events at Kingsley House, which is renowned as the oldest Settlement House in the South
· Walk for Relief (1 mile charity walk) with Red Cross New Orleans
· Opening of Irish Channel Feis Irish Dancing Competition
· Start of Gaelic Football Tournament at Annunciation Square
· Tulane University Historic Tour of New Orleans
· Irish Network of New Orleans Fundraiser Ball
Sunday November 9th – New Orleans:
· Wreath-laying at Hurricane Katrina Memorial
· Visit to New Basin Canal. Many Irish emigrants lost their lives during the construction of the canal, which began in 1832