precedent: Famine

Rowan Gillespie

Commissioned by Norma Smurfit

Norma Smurfit commissioned the memorial known as ‘Famine’ located on Customs House Quay in Dublin, Ireland. This memorial pays dedication to the Irish people forced to emigrate during the 19th century Irish Famine. The location is particularly appropriate because of it being the location of the first voyages of immigrants during the Famine period. The life sized statues were designed and crafted by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie who captures the haunting and grave prospects the Irish immigrants faced during the Great Irish Famine. It is estimated that more than 80,000 souls perished during their travels overseas in hope of a chance at survival.


“Gaunt, spindly figures making their way towards Dublin port. Their faces are a picture of horror and loss. This memorial to the Irish Famine wordlessly expresses the unimaginable desperation of its victims as they attempt to reach the Famine Ships, also known as Coffin Ships, headed to the chance at a btter life. Do they reach port, do they last the journey? Millions did not. A whole country starved and experienced horrors we can’t imagine. These horrors are still a reality in many countries today, think of this as you look into the dying eyes of the Famine Memorial figures on Custom House Quay.”     -Aoife O.



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