The Irish Memorial is a ‘must see’ when you visit Philadelphia. And for Philadelphia residents it is such a gem to have in our backyard. Don’t expect flashy but we can guarantee that you will come away with more than you arrived with. Trip Advisor and Yelp reviews (amongst others) can affirm this here.
The Irish Memorial to “An Gorta Mór” Irish for “the Great Hunger”, was designed by celebrated bronze artist, Glenna Goodacre , who is responsible for the Vietnam Women’s Memorial on the Mall in Washington, DC.
Approximately 12 feet high, 30 feet long, and 12 feet wide, The Memorial contains 35 figures arranged in vignettes representing the despair and hope of the Irish immigrant’s story. On the east end and lowest point of the monument, an anguished woman clutches her rag-swaddled child while another digs for potatoes in the shadow of Celtic crosses marking graves as a distressed young boy looks on. At its highest point, it depicts the arrival of the forward-looking emigres at the docks in America where they will start a new and better life, greeted by a waving figure on the ground that speaks of hope and promise.
Eight memorial plinths line the walkways of The Memorial. A plaque on each describes a different aspect of the great hunger, from the events leading up to the potato blight that led to “An Gorta Mór“, the deaths of a million Irish people and the emigration of more than 1 million more. Each of the paths are oriented to highlight the principal themes of the sculpture.