Comprising a procession of skeletal life-size bronze figures, the haunting Famine Memorial remembers the victims of the Great Irish Famine of 1845–1849. Over a million people died and more than a million more were forced to flee the country as a result of starvation and disease brought on by the failure of the potato crop.
Set along the banks of the River Liffey, this evocative memorial by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie is often encountered by sightseers making their way to other attractions in the area, such as the Custom House. The memorial is an especially fitting complement to the nearby EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum, which reveals the stories and experiences of Irish emigrants, and the Jeanie Johnston tall ship, which documents the experiences of the poverty-stricken and starving emigrants who crossed the Atlantic on the vessel during the famine.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Famine Memorial is a moving site for those who claim Irish ancestry, as well as a must for history buffs and art lovers.
- The statues are easily accessible for wheelchair users, with a smooth, level walkway running beside the River Liffey.
- Lots of bars, restaurants, and cafés can be found in the surrounding Docklands area.
How to Get There
The Famine Memorial is situated on Custom House Quay in the Docklands area of Dublin city center, just a 10-minute stroll east of O’Connell Street. The memorial is also accessible by public transit: take the Luas Red Line tram to the Busáras stop. From there, the memorial is less than five minutes away on foot.
When to Get There
As the sculptures are out in the open air, they are best visited on dry days. In summer, camera-clicking sightseers often crowd the area after noon, so come early in the day if you want to get photographs without other people present.
On the Famine Trail in Ireland
Visitors planning on exploring other parts of Ireland outside Dublin will find plenty of opportunities to learn more about the devastating 19th-century famine and the impact it had on the country. In County Roscommon, find the National Famine Museum, situated on the Georgian-era country estate of Strokestown Park.
The Irish Workhouse Centre in Portumna, County Galway documents life in workhouses for the poor and destitute, while Cobh Heritage Centre in County Cork and the replica Dunbrody Famine Ship in County Wexford, recounts the journeys of emigrants driven from Ireland by the Great Famine.