The commemoration of the Irish Famine has proven to be cathartic for Irish people everywhere. Like W.B. Yeats' "discoverers of forgotten truths," we have come to understand the tremendous impact wrought upon us by this calamity. And we have come to appreciate how this experience beckons us to act responsibly and humanely toward our fellow man.
Perhaps that explains why the people of Ireland contribute more money per capita to relief agencies than do any other people. To emulate the humanitarian response that we ourselves sought 150 years ago is perhaps the best form of redemption we can seek.
The committee wants to make the Boston Irish Famine Memorial a living memorial. After reaching the goal of one million dollars to build the Famine Memorial and Park, we plan to establish the Famine Institute of Boston, as a way of reminding ourselves that humanity and compassion need to be constantly replenished. The Institute will be housed at one of the area colleges, and will have these goals:
To draw parallels between An Gorta Mor and famines still occurring around the world today through education and research
To grant an annual award to a relief agency or an individual working to eradicate hunger
To educate people about the Irish Famine and its impact on Boston, and to encourage other immigrant groups coming to America to seek inspiration from the Irish experience.
Like the Boston Irish Famine Memorial, the Famine Institute of Boston will be an expression of how Irish-Americans paid homage not only to a generation of brave people, but to their ideals as well. The lessons of the Irish Famine need to be constantly re-learned until history finally stops repeating itself.