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Irish Famine Memorial 001

Irish Memorials and Statues in Australia

Ireland and Australia might be thousands of miles apart (9666 miles according to Google) but both nations share a deep, long-lasting bond largely created by different periods of mass immigrations from the Emerald Isle to the other side of the world. 

As a result, the land down under and the 32 counties are more connected than you might ever expect.

Part of this connection and heritage can be seen in three famous Australian memorials and statues that celebrate or commemorate certain stories in Ireland’s past. 

The Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine – Sydney

The Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine, commissioned by the Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee, was inspired by the arrival of thousands of young Irish women to Australia during the strife in their home country.

The monument features 420 names etched into glass panels to remember those who came from workhouses as well as a table, solitary stool and bowl coming out of the wall. 

Statue of Queen Victoria – Sydney

The Statue of Queen Victoria is a funny old story. On the face of it, the statue isn’t necessarily very Irish or Australian and yet it finds a place in both countries’ histories.

 The statue, sculpted and created by Dubliner John Hughes, was commissioned to commemorate Queen Victoria’s tour of Ireland in 1900 and honour her death nine months later. 

Almost a decade later, in 1908, the statue was unveiled at Leinster House in Dublin but by 1922, in the midst of the newly created Irish Republic, it was met with nationalist criticism and disapproval that eventually seen it removed in 1948.

For almost four decades thereafter the statue sat unappreciated in various Irish locations until, in the mid-1980s, a campaign was launched to move it to the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, Australia.

After much politicking the switch was eventually sanctioned and moved across the globe in 1986-87 and it still sit there to this very day!

"Famine Rock" - Melbourne

In Melbourne you’ll find “Famine Rock”, the Irish Famine memorial commissioned by the Melbourne Irish Famine 150th Commemoration Committee and unveiled in 1998. 

The simple stone, with inscription, reads the following on the main plaque:

“In memory of / one million people who died in Ireland / during the Great Hunger of 1845-52. / In praise of / tens of thousands of dispossessed Irish / who sailed to Hobson’s Bay to build a new life. / In sorrow for the dispossession / of the Bunurong and Woiworung people / but in a spirit of reconciliation. / In solidarity with all those / who suffer hunger today.”

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