This prior example highlights the importance of a monument’s inscription, which leads me to another Celtic Cross, in Doolough, Co. Mayo, Ireland. I admit I originally chose this example for its typical depiction of this universal symbol for Irish remembrance. I wanted to establish how this traditional type of memorial in both Ireland and abroad (Canada) demonstrates how remembrance styles could continue with the survivors. Further research revealed how the memorial perfectly encompassed the key components highlighted in my selection process for the repository. The first is how the location of this memorial is noteworthy: placed in a scenic environment, it is surrounded by the beautiful Irish countryside. The scenic surroundings provide a stark contrast to the dark history also attached to this location, as Mayo was one of the counties most impacted by the Great Famine. Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, this cross holds a historical as well as international parallel. Upon reading the inscription a comparison between those who marched in Doolough during the Famine to those who marched for freedom in South Africa in 1994 is emphasised. In 1849, famine victims in the south of Mayo were forced to leave their lands to march, later being dubbed the “Doolough tragedy”. Although these two historic events are of course different, through my studies I have come to understand Ireland as a country with a long history of oppression, which in turn has inspired a deep understanding for other international cases of discrimination. Therefore, my opinion of this monument goes beyond being a humble Celtic Cross, as I see it as a vessel that depicts a universal message of human resilience as well as Ireland’s global awareness to perceived related instances of oppression and injustice.
This blog has illustrated the thought process as well as the reasoning for how I decided which monuments should be added to the repository. I based my research on memorials on three crucial factors: the location, the design, and the inscription. The monuments given as examples for this blog were intended to represent the diversity in statues of representation when remembering the Great Famine. As I furthered my research through each selected monument, I gained a deeper understanding of the layers to the monuments. I admit that my original choices were dictated by visual appearance, as in the more traditional examples of Famine, Arrival, and the Celtic Crosses or the more abstract of the Broken Heart Fountain. However, I learned that although the visual aspect is what is first noticed when looking at a monument, the depth of its meaning could only be truly understood through considering its inscription and location. My hope for those reading this blog is that my research aids as a reminder to stop and ask yourself why this monument is here. Yes, I made my choices visually at the beginning, but it was only when I researched the inscription and locations, I truly felt like I understood the memorials.
All images courtesy of Emily Mark-FitzGerald (University College Dublin), www.irishfaminememorials.com (accessed 16 June 2022).
For images of all monuments discussed in this blog, please visit www.irishfaminememorials.com.