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Great Famine commemoration to take place in Melbourne

Josepha Madigan said the event will give an opportunity to pay tribute to the young Irish women who travelled from workhouses here to Australia.

Minister Josepha Madigan
Minister Josepha Madigan
Image: Eamonn Farrell/

THE 2018 INTERNATIONAL Commemoration of the Great Irish Famine will take place in Australia in October.

The annual event moves location each year, taking place in Toronto in Canada in 2017.

This year’s event will be held at Famine Rock in Williamstown, Melbourne. The national commemoration was held at University College Cork in May. 

The government will be represented at the event by Patrick O’Donovan, Minister of State at the Department of Finance and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.


Josepha Madigan, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and chair of the National Famine Commemoration Committee, said is “particularly fitting” that this year’s overseas commemoration is held in Melbourne given the “strong historical links between Melbourne and Cork”.

Some 1,700 of the 4,412 young Irish women and girls who travelled from the workhouses of Ireland between 1848 and 1850 under the Earl Grey Scheme in search of hope and a new beginning, many of them from County Cork, were processed through the Government Depot in William St, Melbourne.

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Madigan added that the commemoration “represents an opportunity to not only honour the work of the Irish community in Melbourne in preserving its history but also to pay special tribute to the memory of those young women and their contribution to their adopted homeland”.

This will be the second time the international commemoration has been held in Australia – the 2013 commemoration took place in Sydney.

There have been nine international commemorations of the Great Irish Famine to date. Since the first international commemoration in Toronto and Quebec in 2009, events have also been held elsewhere in Canada, the US and the UK.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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