The Great Irish Famine Continued.... Part 2

The Great Irish Famine Continued.... Part 2

In 1847 alone, over 37,000 Irish had arrived in Boston and over 50,000 more to New York.
Upon their arrival to the United States the new immigrants were greeted by a government that was openly anti-Catholic and signs advertising jobs also said "No Irish Need apply". The conditions at the American quarantine stations were much better than at Quebec and those who went through them fared much better than their countrymen who passed through Quebec.
At first the only jobs available to the Irish were physical and often quite dangerous jobs such as building the countries railroads, mining, road building and construction. Over the years the Irish with their hard work and perseverance started becoming successful and affluent in their new land. They are now amongst the highest average income earners in America. Many of them went on to become business tycoons such as Henry Ford, great military men and politicians. The best know of whom is John F. Kennedy, who was elected in 1960, becoming the first Catholic Irish-American president of the United States. His grandfather had emigrated from New Ross, County Wexford, in 1847.

In Ireland, several museums have been built in order to commemorate this tragic period of Irish history. The first official one was the Famine Museum situated in Strokestow, County Roscommon, which was opened by then President Mary Robinson. Robinson remarked during the launching of the Museum in 1991, "It is in this part of the country that the folk memory of the period is the strongest." Most importantly of all, however, is the fact that the Strokestown estate (where the museum is now housed) gained notoriety during one of the worst years of the famine when the landlord, Major Denis Mahon, was assassinated by his tenants following his attempt to clear the estate of two-thirds of its poverty-stricken and starving population through assisted passage to Canada and mass eviction. The archive of Famine related estate documents is, conceivably, the best single archive of its type anywhere in Ireland.

In Cobh (known as Queenstown during that period) Co. Cork , you could visit the Queenstown Story at Cobh Heritage Centre which was built in order to preserve the memory of the two and a half million Irish that left their country from that port between 1848 and 1950. The total for Ireland during this period was over six million.
Skibbereen hosts a new Famine Interpretative Centre, which was built with the purpose of being the authority and a permanent reminder to the memory of the thousands of people that died in this town. The Skibbereen Trail, well worth walking, is also located in town. It is well marked (maps and information packages are available at the tourist office) and very informative in describing the plight and the squalor in which the people lived and died in during the Great Famine. The walk will take you past places that played an important role during that tragic period in the town's history. The trail will also bring you to the mass burial site in which thousands of people were laid to rest.

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