The Irish Hunger Memorial
By Irish America Staff
August / September 2002
On Tuesday, July 16, New York Governor Pataki led a dedication ceremony for The Irish Hunger Memorial at Battery Park City. The memorial was designed by Brian Tolle, who visited the deserted Achill Island Village of Slievemore before submitting his plan, which includes a ruined cottage, deserted potato furrows, uncultivated land and a high wall of alternating layers of stone and illuminated glass. “It was apparent to me that this was about absence, that the village was deserted as a result of famine, and I wanted to make the land a subject and point to its tragedy,” Tolle said of his memorial.
The evocation of the landscape includes a steep gradient rising to 25 feet which sits atop and cantilevers over a base made of alternating bands of stone and translucent resin on which will be inscribed testimony to the famine: stories, extracts, poetry and quotations. The memorial, which takes up a half-acre site was due to have been dedicated on March 17, but the events of September11 and the recovery efforts in the nearby site of the former World Trade Center necessitated postponing the date. The memorial is to have a contemporary focus, drawing attention to starvation around the world through a small library nearby. ♦