What Does The Irish Memorial Mean to You?

The Irish Memorial was created to commemorate and to educate about the tragedy of Ireland’s Great Hunger. Over the years, we could not be more excited by the way the Memorial has grown to become an essential part of the local community. While The Irish Memorial in Philadelphia still serves its’ primary purpose of education, it has grown to serve as a place for meeting, a place to remember, a place for celebration, and a place to feel closer to ancestors. Due to the impact, The Irish Memorial has had on the community, we decided to ask individuals an important question: What does The Irish Memorial mean to YOU?


Artist Max Mason :

We decided to begin the series by asking artist Max Mason, what The Irish Memorial has meant to him. Mason is a Philadelphia artist, who has created paintings of the Irish Memorial. He is represented by the Gross McCleaf Gallery since 1985 and you may be familiar with his painting series on the ballparks. The artist grew up in Lincoln, Massachusetts, but currently lives in the Philadelphia suburbs and has painted several murals for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.

What does The Irish Memorial means to you? “The Memorial is a haven for me, a place to contemplate my Irish ancestry and just take a breath. Since we live in the burbs I’m not there on a weekly basis, but monthly is more like it. The intersection of landscape, the grasses, the man-made stone walls that allude to the fields of Ireland, and the poignancy of the statue make a small but harmonious environment of man and nature working together. It is a pocket park, with benefits. It’s fun to watch the dogs in the dog run, the kids running around on the plaza, the tourists taking photos with the statue and reading the signs explaining about An Gorta Mór. We tell people about it all the time, bring them there and I always feel refreshed and somewhat exhilarated after leaving. It’s a wonderful work of art- an intersection of history, landscape, landscape design, and sculpture. It’s a jewel and I would hate to see it leave. I understand it’s at risk from the plans to roof over 95, which is a great idea, but I would hate to see The Irish Memorial changed in any way.”

“Thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell you about this masterwork of landscape design, history, and art. I know of nothing like it.”

Why did you choose The Irish Memorial as a subject for some of your artwork? “Upon discovering the Memorial I was so struck with Glena Goodacre’s compositional complexity, the story telling, and the compositions within the larger composition that I felt called to paint it. It really is a masterwork telling the tragic and relevant story of the Irish migration. The grounds are marvelous as well. The beautifully built walls and grasses evoking the Irish landscape integrate with the sculpture to make a world within a world. Congratulations to The Irish Memorial Organization.”

Thank you, Max Mason for sharing with us what the Irish Memorial means to you!