New Orleans to host ‘Great Irish Famine’ events

New Orleans has been chosen by the Irish government as the 2014 host city for events commemorating “An Gorta Mór” (Irish for “The Great Hunger”), known popularly as the Irish Famine.

Since 2009, the goal of the annual observance has been to keep the memory of the Irish Famine alive and pay tribute to the outstanding accomplishments of Irish men, women and children who left their homeland to escape starvation and illness.

Activities will include:

Friday, Nov. 7

• A Tulane University-sponored symposium, entitled “Ireland and New Orleans: From the Famine to Katrina – Stories of Recovery,” will take place at St. Alphonsus Church, 2025 Constance St. The symposium will feature the following speakers and topics:

10 a.m.: Caroilin Callery and Sean Tenner: “Lessons from the Great Famine: Education, Public Policy and Issues of Hunger in the World Today.”

11 a.m.: Richard Campanella: “Where was the Irish Channel? Irish Residential Settlement Patterns in the Nineteenth-Century Ethnic Geography of New Orleans.”

1 p.m.: Terrence Fitzmorris: “‘The departed do not live in memory forever’: Irish Involvement in the Civil War.”

2 p.m.: Ciara Breathnach: “Being Framed: Photographic Evidence of the Enduring Impact of the Famine in the West of Ireland.”

3 p.m.: Christine Kinealy: “The Kindness of Strangers: Charity and the Great Hunger in Ireland.”

4 p.m.: Keynote address by Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (the latter the term for areas in which Irish is the primary language spoken in the home).

4:30 p.m.: Closing reception for the symposium.

• Also on Nov. 7, from 6 to 9 p.m., the Irish Cultural Museum of New Orleans, 933 Conti St., will debut “An Gorta Mór: The Great Hunger,” a free exhibit exploring the causes and consequences of the Great Irish Potato Famine. Funded by the Emigrant Support Programme of Ireland, the exhibit also will tell the story of famine refugees who poured into New Orleans during one of the worst disasters in history. The night will include a juried art exhibit on the theme of hunger. The first annual “Lace Curtain Night” street celebration, featuring live music and food, will be held in conjunction with the exhibit in the 900 block of Conti Street. Food wristbands can be purchased at or at the gate on the night of the event. Proceeds will benefit Lantern Light, a ministry of the Presentation Sisters that provides food and assistance to the poor and homeless of New Orleans.

Saturday, Nov. 8

• Kingsley House, 1600 Constance St., will host “Irish Fest,” a new festival celebrating all aspects of Irish culture. The festival kicks off at 8 a.m. with a 5K walk and includes a ceili (Irish folk dancing), traditional music sessions, Irish cooking demonstrations and food vendors, Irish Sports demonstrations and an exhibit on the Great Famine. The Irish Channel Cup Gaelic football tournament, featuring teams from across the United States, will take place in Annunciation Square. Muggivan School of Irish Dance will sponsor a feis, featuring dancers from the entire southern region. Dancers will perform both modern and traditional Irish dances dating back to the 17th century. More information can be found at

• Walking tours led by Tulane professors will explore why New Orleans is known as “the most Irish city in the South.” Space is limited and pre-registration is required.  There will be no day-of or onsite registration available. To purchase tickets, go to

• “A Celebration of Triumph over Adversity,” a black-tie gala sponsored by Irish Network-New Orleans (IN-NOLA), will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at Gallier Hall, 545 St. Charles Ave. The event will feature traditional Irish dancing, music and cuisine from area restaurants. To purchase tickets, visit

Sunday, Nov. 9

• The Ancient Order of Hibernians of Louisiana will host a dedication and blessing of the new four-acre Hibernian Memorial Park – and its iconic 7-foot Celtic cross made out of Kilkenny marble – at the site of the historic New Basin Canal on the West End Boulevard neutral ground in Lakeview. The event, which takes place from 1 to 4 p.m., will feature picnic-style food, Irish music and dancing. For more information on the dedication, contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The event is free and open to the public.

The main website for all three days of Great Famine commemorative events is

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