The Great Hunger

Only one mural on the subject of the Great Hunger (An Gorta Mór, An tOcras Mór, An Drochshaol, the famine) is recorded prior to 1995:

1993 “The Irish Holocaust” on the Springfield Road

(1993 T00170)

1995 was the 150th anniversary of the onset of the potato blight. According to Niamh O’Sullivan in the Irish Times, the 1995 anniversary was when “the image caught up with history” and the hunger/famine was first seriously reckoned with in Irish art generally. Photography was still in its infancy in 1850 and would not appear in newspapers until the 1880s (LoC). Instead, newspapers used illustrations to bring their stories to life. The most commonly used illustrations are those that appeared in the Illustrated London News. (For a catalogue of famine images at the time and in the decardes afterwards, including ILN images and articles, see Views Of The Famine.)

At least nine murals were painted in Belfast to commorate the event:

1995 “An tOcras Mór” on the New Lodge Road (painted by Farset Artists Collection) including (left-most and right-most figures) Searching For Potatoes In A Stubble Field (from ILN)

(2014 dating to 1995 X01699)

1995 “Ireland’s Holocaust” on the Whiterock Road (painted by Mo Chara) including (above) Begging At Clonakilty (ILN), (left) Boy And Girl At Cahera (ILN), (right) Searching For Potatoes In A Stubble Field (ILN)

(1999 dating to 1995 M02750)

1995 “Nature sent the potato blight, government & landlords created the famine” in Lenadoon Avenue (painted by a Short Strand artist and Cormac)

(2007 dating to 1995 M03538)

1995 “Weary People, What Reap Ye?” in St James’s Crescent, with a parallel to the treatment of native Australians.

(1995 T00155. See also M04222)

1995 “Emigration Ship” on Oakman Street (Beechmount) based on The Embarkation, Waterloo Docks Liverpool (ILN).

(2012 X00831 dating to 1995. See also 1999 M02067)

1995 “Victoria By The Seaside” in Linden Street (lower Falls) by Rosie McGurran

(2011 X00458)

1995 “There Was No Famine” in the middle Falls, including Bridget O’Donnel And Children (ILN).

(Year unknown D00210. See also 1995 M01217)

1995 “Gorta Mór” in Rossnareen, including Bridget O’Donnel And Children (ILN).

(1995 T00159)

1995 “Witness To The Great Hunger” in Slemish Way (Andersonstown)

(1995 T00156)

Murals Painted After 1995

After 1995, the Hunger became an occasional theme in CNR muraling.

?1996? Eviction and emigration scenes on board in Thames St

(1996 D00575)

?1997? “They Buried Us Without Shroud Nor Coffin” in Ardoyne Avenue, including (left) Begging At Clonkilty (ILN) and (right) Funeral At Skibbereen (ILN).

(1997 T00299)

?2000? Emigration Ship

(2001 M01486)

2002 “They Buried Us Without Shroud Or Coffin” in Ardoyne Avenue, including (from left to right) The EjectmentThe Day After The Ejectment,  The Embarkation, Waterloo Docks Liverpool, all from ILN.

(2002 M01803. Later with “emigration” spelled as “emmigration” – see 2004 X00046)

2011 “The Mass Graves Of Ireland” on the (upper) Springfield Road (painted by Mo Chara)

(2015 X02625)

2011 Bridget O’Donnel And Children (ILN) was included on the hoarding around An Cultúrlann construction.

(2011 M06452)

2012 “The Famine Window” in Belfast City Hall, in memory of “those citizens of Belfast who died as a result of Typhus and Cholera in the years 1846, 1847 and 1848.”

(2014 X01696. See also 2012 M08711)

2015 “In Search Of A Better Life” in Crocus Street

(2015 X03011)

“Stars, Look Down/A Réaltaí, Féachaíg’ Anuas” in William Street, Derry by OMIN, including The Battering Ram, a photograph from 1888.

(2019 X08448)

2019 “Thousands Are Sailing” in Great James Street, Derry, by Shane O’Malley

(2023 dating to 2019 X11109)

2021 “Genocide In Ireland” in Ard An Lao, Belfast. Including (from left to right): Family Being Evicted From Their Home In Rural Ireland, Searching For Potatoes In A Stubble Field (ILN), and food arriving from the USA in the famine of 1879-1880.

(2021 X08360)

Key to reference numbers. Thanks to all of the following for the use of their images.

D =
M = Peter Moloney Collection – Murals
T = Paddy Duffy
X = Extramural Activity

Copyright © 2023 Extramural Activity. Images are copyright of their respective photographers.

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