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Starving Irish in Ireland.
Starving Irish in Ireland.

Irish Potato Famine Memorial

Field review by the editors.

Boston, Massachusetts

In 1997 Cambridge, Massachusetts, erected a statue-memorial to the Irish Potato Famine as part of the 150th anniversary of that human catastrophe. Anxious to not be bested by a nearby competitor, Boston rushed out its own Irish Potato Famine statue-memorial less than a year later, on June 28, 1998.

Sculptor Robert Shure later admitted that the idea for the memorial wasn't his, and that the committee in charge made him complete the work too quickly. The result: two bronze sculptures of two Irish families on separate pedestals. One family, in Ireland, is ragged, emaciated, and evidently doomed. The other family, in Boston, is healthy, well-dressed, and well-fed. "Many died on the side of the road, their mouths stained by grass in a desperate attempt to survive," reads a plaque beneath the Irish family, while on the Boston side, "Famine Irish eventually transformed themselves from impoverished refugees to hard-working, successful Americans."

The Irish Times said the memorial enshrined "pious cliches and dead conventions," while the art critic for The Boston Globe called it, "the most mocked and reviled public sculpture in Boston."

Well-fed Irish-Americans in Boston.
Well-fed Irish-Americans in Boston.

Irish Potato Famine Memorial

11 School St., Boston, MA
Downtown. In a little park at the southwest corner of School and Washington Sts.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
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