Articles of Interest


Rededication Remarks delivered by Dr. Donald D. Deignan, PH.D.
at The Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial
(September 14, 2019 )

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen:

I bid all of you a very warm welcome to the restored and strengthened Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial. I am Don Deignan, the current President of the Famine Memorial Committee. We, as Irish Citizens or as members of the diaspora, are a very resilient people! We have, we do, and we will continue to overcome all challenges to our community and to Ireland, including Brexit!

The serious vandalism and felonious thefts which occurred here a little more than a year ago have made this Memorial Rededication Day necessary! But I would rather focus on the many people and organizations who have made this new day possible!

I want to thank all the Famine Committee for their hard and unsung remedial work over the last several months. Mary Smith, Mark Russell, Jim Crowshaw, Clare Barrett, Peter Martin and Ed Johnson deserve special thanks.

I want also to acknowledge our great debt of gratitude to Patrick Griffin and the Providence Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and to Jim McGetrick, Marie Magee and all the other members of the 1916 Committee. Both groups sponsored several major fundraisers which enabled us to raise the money necessary to repair the damage to our Memorial without depleting our existing financial resources.

This restored Memorial pays lasting tribute to our heroic Irish ancestors who survived the Great Famine and the Coffin Ships to then overcome economic discrimination, religious persecution and social ostracism here in Rhode Island and throughout the United States of America.

But this Memorial is also a precious public gift to future generations of visitors from all ethnic backgrounds.

By reading and reflecting upon the various historical texts and family tributes enshrined here, they will come to understand why this place is so special and even sacred to those of us who helped to make it a beautiful reality.

In closing I want to thank our wonderful sculptor, Robert Shure, the Providence Police, Public Works and Parks Departments, the many talented musicians and singers who perform for us today, our sign-language interpreter, and my fellow speakers on this afternoon’s Program.

They will now celebrate and solemnize the lives and works of those who have gone before us. I want finally to recognize members of the Rhode Island Beirut Marine Memorial Committee. Their Monument will become our newest and nearest neighbor sometime in 2020 and we are honored that it will be here next to us.

Sister Angela Daniels is indisposed. So it is now my great privilege to introduce Father Bernie O’Reilly who will lead us in prayer and pay tribute to our recently deceased friend and Famine Committee member, Father Daniel M. Trainor. Please stand, as you are able, for the Invocation and remain standing for our National Anthems.

Thank you all for honoring our work with your presence here today. May God continue to bless Ireland, the United States of America and this Memorial. Thank you.

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