'Famine' (1997) was commissioned by Norma Smurfit and presented to the City...
'Famine' (1997) was commissioned by Norma Smurfit and presented to the City of Dublin in 1997. The sculpture is a commemorative work dedicated to those Irish people forced to emigrate during the 19th century Irish Famine. The bronze sculptures were designed and crafted by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie and are located on Custom House Quay in Dublin's Docklands.
This location is a particularly appropriate and historic as one of the first voyages of the Famine period was on the 'Perserverance' which sailed from Custom House Quay on St. Patrick's Day 1846. Captain William Scott, a native of the Shetland Isles, was a veteran of the Atlantic crossing, gave up his office job in New Brunswick to take the 'Perserverance' out of Dublin. He was 74 years old. The Steerage fare on the ship was £3 and 210 passengers made the historical journey. They landed in New York on the 18th May 1846. All passengers and crew survived the journey.
In June 2007, a second series of famine sculptures by Rowan Gillespie, was unveiled by President Mary McAleese on the quayside in Toronto's Ireland Park to remember the arrival of these refugees in Canada.
The World Poverty Stone
The World Poverty Stone is a commemorative stone marking the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of World Poverty. It is sited to the east of the Famine Sculptures on Custom House Quay in the heart of Dublin's Docklands.
This limestone memorial was commissioned as a gesture of solidarity with people living in poverty around the world. On the 17th of October 1987, in response to the call of Joseph Wresinski - founder of the International Movement ATD Fourth World - 100,000 defenders of human rights gathered in Paris to honour the victims of hunger, violence and ignorance, to express their refusal of extreme poverty and to call on people from all walks of life to unite to ensure respect for human rights. A commemorative stone proclaiming this message was inaugurated on this occasion on the Plaza of Human Rights and Liberties - where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948.
Since then, on the 17th of October each year, people from all walks of life, gather throughout the world to express their solidarity and commitment to ensure that everyone's dignity and freedom are respected. On 22nd of December 1992, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared 17th October the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. There are now over 30 replicas of the original stone now located around the world. These sites have become places of honour for people living in poverty in the world, places where people gather to reject the inevitability of poverty and social exclusion and places of friendship and solidarity where people from all backgrounds can gather together. Around the world, annual commemoration take place at the site of the stones to mark the 17th October UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
The artist - Stuart McGrath, based in Co. Wicklow, is a master craftsman; his training is in sculpture, architectural and classical stone carving. All of his stonecutting is done by hand using traditional methods.