Wednesday, 23 July 2008

La Granda Irlanda Malsatego The Peninsula:

Irish government experts met yesterday to consider how to commemorate the country's Great Famine, which killed over a million people more than 160 years ago.

A national day of commemoration is expected to emerge from the committee-the first time the forgotten victims would be officially remembered since the Famine, which triggered an enormous exodus from Ireland. "There is nothing else in the history of the Irish people that can be likened to the Great Famine," Community Affairs and Gaeltacht (Irish language) Minister Eamon O Cuiv told the inaugural meeting.

"The involvement of this committee will help to ensure that the Famine, its victims and its legacy are not forgotten," said O Cuiv, a grandson of former prime minister and president Eamon de Valera. The huge death toll from starvation and disease was caused by successive failures of the potato crop-then a key part of the staple diet for many Irish people-in 1845-49.

The population of Ireland, which exceeded eight million in 1841, plummeted as a result of death and emigration. The famine triggered a surge in emigration as an estimated 1.5 million people headed for England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada.

As a result, in 1850 a quarter of the populations of Liverpool, Boston, New York and Philadelphia were identified as Irish.

The following year, a census in Canada indicated more than half the inhabitants of Toronto, Ontario, to be Irish. The ministry said themes that will be investigated by the committee will be the "general legacy of emigration, cultural loss and the decline of the Irish language" as a result of the catastrophe….

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