7th Annual Irish Studies Conference examines The Great Famine
Video report by Bart Martin
Angela Kelly: The Famine in Art
Video report by Matt Breslin
Elizabeth Osta: Children in Famine
Mike McCarthy: Many Famines
Video report by Mikaela Huber
Julia Tesesco, Foodlink:
Hunger in Rochester today
Video report by Gabriella Garcy
By Joshua Bsoul and Hannah Batten
St. John Fisher College sponsored its 7th Annual Irish Studies conference “Remembering The Great Irish Famine,” on April 13, which featured many guest speakers and 11 different topics throughout the 10-hour program.
The guests spoke on many different topics all based on the theme of “Remembering the Great Irish Famine.”
“It’s important that we never forget nor be silent about The Great Irish Famine,” said Mary Kelly, a Franklin Pierce teacher said during her speech on Ireland's Great Famine in Irish- American History, “The suffrage caused by the famine is unthinkable,” Kelly said.
For “Children and Famine,” Elizabeth Osta, author of Jeremiah’s Hunger, spoke on how the famine affected children. Osta highlighted some scenes from her book, illuminating the great number of deaths suffered by children during this time. Throughout her presentation, Osta made use of a slideshow to illustrate her ideas. Accompanying Osta, a folksinger intermittently sang in accordance to the devastation of the famine.
The pinnacle of Osta’s presentation was her hope of remembrance for the children lost to the famine. Osta encouraged all to preserve the memory of these children moving forward.
Michael McCarthy, president of the Irish American Cultural Institute, spoke for the “Other Famines in Irish History” session. McCarthy described in depth a number of famines apart from the most notorious 1845-1852 famine. According to McCarthy, there were over 25 potato crop failures in Ireland between 1717 and 1851. This would equate to approximately one crop failure every five years. McCarthy brought to light Ireland’s extensive history of famines despite the common belief that there was only one.
Chris Murray, an audience member during this block of the presentation, commented on Ireland’s historical struggle. He stated, “I never realized the extent to which Ireland experienced so much famine. To learn that there were 25 famines in less than 200 years was really eye opening.”
“It’s extremely important for people to acknowledge where such a bulk of Irish Americans came from, their root and how they got them where they are today,” said St. John Fisher librarian and Irish Dance Club advisor Benjamin Hockenberry
“The topic of Children and Famine, was very eye-opening to me,” said Hana Cheasman, a St. John Fisher student and attendee.
St. John Fisher is a college known for its commitment to Irish heritage. The campus houses a memorial monument in remembrance of the Great Irish Famine.
The conference concluded with both a concert featuring Manus McGuire and Dave Curley, and the screening of Ireland's Great Hunger and The Irish Diaspora.
“It's great that St. John Fisher continues to celebrate Irish culture and history, and that Irish culture has a large role on campus,” said Kelly.
This report by Joshua Bsoul and Hannah Batten combines stories each of them did covering the conference as a project for a journalism class
Full conference program
Fionnuala Regan, Irish Studies Coordinator of Events
THE GREAT FAMINE BACKGROUND
Students from the Celtic Spirituality class
FREDERICK DOUGLASS and the ORIGINS OF THE GREAT FAMINE
Timothy J. Madigan, professor and chair, philosophy and classical studies
CHILDREN AND FAMINE
Elizabeth Osta, author of Jeremiah’s Hunger
OTHER FAMINES IN IRISH HISTORY
Michael McCarthy, president of the Irish American Cultural Institute
THE GREAT FAMINE’S DEPICTION IN ART
Ryan Mahoney, executive director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University,
and Angela Kelly, professor of photographic arts and sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology
IRELAND’S GREAT FAMINE IN IRISH-AMERICAN HISTORY
Mary C. Kelly, professor of history at Franklin Pierce University
TEACHING THE GREAT FAMINE
Maureen Murphy, professor of curriculum and teaching and co-director of Irish Studies, Hofstra University
FAMINE IN ROCHESTER TODAY
Julia Tedesco, executive director of Foodlink Rochester
IRELAND’S GREAT HUNGER AND THE IRISH DIASPORA
TRADITIONAL IRISH MUSIC CONCERT
Manus McGuire and Dave Curley