The Memorial Rhode Island's permanent memorial to the two and one-half millon victims and survivors of Ireland's "Great Famine" of 1845-1851 was dedicated on Saturday, November 17, 2007 !  Photographs of the site are posted on the Dedication page.

Although the Memorial has been dedicated, funds are still being raised to ensure perpetual care, as well as to fund annual events.

You can play a continuing part in Rhode Island's Irish-American history and future. For information about purchasing a commemorative brick or flagstone, or to make a larger, tax-deductible donation please call 943-0124.

A beautiful down-city site along the Providence River Walk was selected as the location for the Rhode Island Famine Memorial, which was designed and executed by the internationally acclaimed sculptor, Robert Shure. It serves as a forceful and moving tribute to the sufferings and triumphs of those who came before us. It also preserves the memory and the historical meaning of the great Famine for future generations of Rhode Islanders of whatever ethnic or cultural background.

The Memorial - A Description

The Irish Memorial occupies a prominent location along the newly restored waterfront at River Walk in Providence. A larger-than-life statue of three Irish figures sits on a round stone base, bordered by a walkway that incorporates the donor-bricks and flagstones. The walkway leads to a commemorative wall that narrates the history of the Famine amid the Irish immigration. The sidewalk beneath the wall incorporates an outline map depicting the coasts of America and Ireland, emphasizing the courageous journey of the Irish people to the United States.

Donor-bricks create an outer semi-circle framing the maps, and flagstones border the sidewalk nearest that runs alongside the river.

The three sculpted figures in the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial symbolically commemorate the suffering of the Irish people during the Great Hunger of 1845 to 1851. The sculpture uniquely combines the despair of the past with an enduring sense of optimism that reflects the strength of our ancestors’ immigration and the joy of our achievements here in America.

The printed history of the Famine, on the third side of the triangle, features vignettes of Irish life at the time of the Hunger. Visitors are able to trace the immigrants’ escape to the new world on horrendous "coffin ships" and visualize their struggle in the American urban crucible as our forebears overcome all adversity to build and shape a new home. You and our many successes as Irish-Americans are the crowning end to the noble story. Our memorial remains an enduring symbol to the tragedy and triumph of victims, survivors, and descendants of the Irish Famine.

The Memorial - Its Creation

Mr. Shure painstakingly crafted the sculpture models over the course of one year. Below are photos of Mr. Shure with this work of art in its first (clay) stage, as it was prepared to be sent to the foundry for final casting in bronze.

   

Mr. Shure also sculpted the model for the memorial wall that tells the Irish immigration story in images and narrative text. Below is the clay model for the center portion of the wall.


It should be noted that we continue as a member organization of the Heritage Harbor Museum and will be involved in the creation of indoor exhibits as that project reaches fruition.