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International Famine Memorial to take place in Phoenix


Posted 7/08/2019

Ireland's annual International Famine Commemoration will take place in Phoenix this November. The event will be hosted by the excellent Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library in the state capital.

The Irish Cultural Center

This is a must-visit spot for any Irish Diaspora in and around the Valley of the Sun. Phoenix is the fifth-most populous city in the whole of the United States and 10% of the 1.6 million residents have Irish ancestry.

The McClelland Library is housed within the Irish Cultural Center in Phoenix. It's fair to say that this is a one-of-a-kind resource for Irish history in the whole of North America. The library is named in honour of founder Norman McClelland, former chairman of Shamrock Foods. It houses over 8,000 books from Irish authors, poets and genealogical resources. There is a permanent exhibition on the Book of Kells and they hosted a 1916 Centenary exhibition in partnership with the Louth County Library in Dundalk, Ireland. They are currently running an exhibit on The Irish in Latin America which you can visit until the 7th December.

Three tonnes of limestone was shipped from County Galway to construct the impressive library which is inspired by the design of 12th Century Norman castles. 

The Irish Cultural Center is a flagbearer of Irish culture and heritage in America. They carry on Irish traditions through Irish dancing lessons and Irish language classes. 

The International Famine Commemoration

Each year, the Irish government hosts an International Famine Commeration. This commemoration honors the great Irish men and women lost during the Famine and also celebrates the Irish people who left Ireland to make a better life for themselves and their families at this time. 

This year will look at the contribution of the Irish Diaspora and their descendants in the western states of the U.S. This year also marks the 20th Anniversary of the Irish Cultural Center's own Famine commemoration. Their memorial, An Gorta Mór, is a simple yet powerful tribute to those lost during the Famine that can be seen at the Irish Cultural Center. 

Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee will be in attendance at the International Famine Commemoration on November 3rd.

Irish Ancestry

As we have already mentioned there is a large Irish Diaspora in Arizona and the wider states. Going back to the latter half of the 1800s, there are numerous stories of Irish men and women who made it all the way to Phoenix and the surrounding areas to start a new life. This history of Irish in Arizona goes back even further. The Red Captain, Hugh O'Conor (Hugo Oconór), was a Brigadier General in the Spanish Army. O'Conor is considered to be the founding father of Tucson, Arizona having commissioned a military fort to be built in that location in 1775 while he was serving as the Governor of Texas. 

If you would like to find out more about your own Irish ancestry then you can visit FindMyPast and start your free 14 day trial to begin your research journey. 

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