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  • BOSTON REMEMBERS THE IRISH FAMINE

    (Boston) -- Irish immigrants who fled to Boston 150 years ago to escape a five-year famine were remembered, as a $1 million memorial park was unveiled in their honor on Sunday, June 28, 1998.

    The park, located at Washington and School Street along the city's Freedom Trail, features twin sculptures by artist Robert Shure and eight narrative plaques, depicting the odyssey of the Irish from tragedy to triumph.

    "This is a remarkable day for the people of Boston, who have joined together to honor not just the Irish but all immigrants who struggle to succeed in America," said Thomas J. Flatley, chairman of the Boston Irish Famine Memorial committee.

    Flatley was joined at the ceremony by Ireland's Minister of State Seamus Brennan, Ireland?s Ambassador to the US Sean O Huiginn, Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. Several thousand people attended the two hour ceremony, including representatives of Irish and other ethnic groups from throughout New England.

    "The Memorial will serve as a permanent reminder of the Famine, a story of great loss, but of survival and courage too," said Minister Brennan. "This place will be a centre of reflection for people of many nationalities who will come here."

    To underscore the universal plight of the immigrant, the committee invited several people from outside the Irish community to read the narrative plaques. In addition to an Irish native, an Irish immigrant, and two Irish-Americans, other readers included a Holocaust survivor, immigrants from Vietnam and Rwanda, and a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

    Flatley said the committee plans to establish an Irish Famine Institute in Boston, as a way of making this a "living memorial." The Institute will have two goals: to use the Memorial as an educational symbol of the American experience, and to work with relief agencies throughout the world fighting hunger in famine-stricken areas.

    "The Institute will seek to provide the compassion and hope that our own ancestors sought so long ago," Flatley said. "We think they would have wanted it that way."

    The 6,000 square foot park was designed by Tony Casendino, Steve Cecil and David O'Connor, and was constructed by Suffolk Construction Company of Boston, a fourth generation company founded by Irish immigrants and now headed by John Fish.

    For more information on the Boston Irish Famine Memorial, please contact 50 Braintree Hill Office Park, Braintree, MA 02184, (781) 849-4444.

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