Gáirdín an Ghorta This is the garden of remembrance. The path through the garden is a metaphor for Irish history. The journey along the path is synonymous with the journey of the Irish people from pre-famine era to the future.

This is a National Garden of Remembrance not just those remembering who died in this area or in this country, but all those Irish people who tenaciously held on to their small meagre holdings and passed them down to generation after generation, honouring also those who died of fever, hunger and starvation in their own homes and work houses – very often buried where they fell, or in mass burials in unmarked graves, those who emigrated and the many who died in the “Coffin” ships, buried at sea, those who made it to other countries and in particular to the United States – many rejected by the natives for fear of contagious fever, disease and of course those who successfully made it to other countries, the U.S. in particular, and did us proud.

About Gairdin an Ghorta

An Gorta Mor The Great Famine

The committee of Newmarket Tidy Towns, even though few in numbers (8), can be justifiably proud of their achievements during the late eighties, the nineteen nineties and well into the years of the new millennium.

For many successive years in Group A of the Tidy Towns Annual Competition, they came in first place in County Kilkenny with their high marks in the year end results.

As a result of their huge success in this field they decided to do something very positive and enduring as the 150th Anniversary of the Great Irish Famine was approaching.

There was an eyesore of a derelict site in the village and owned by Kilkenny County Council.  It was adjacent to one of the many floral displays.  Having obtained sanction from the Council to convert the site into a 150th Anniversary Famine Commemorative Garden and guaranteed funding from the main sponsors, also assurance from Bank of Ireland for a sizeable loan, the Committee immediately went into top gear to initiate fund-raising and seek voluntary workers.

It was imperative that the committee had to provide matching funding for all the major grants and also six or seven people as guarantors for the Bank of Ireland facility.

All the requirements were readily made available.  The local community, parishioners and many outsiders were more than generous in their response for voluntary labour and donations.  The result was, this beautiful 150th Anniversary Famine Commemorative Garden, was officially opened as a very special Millennium Project by President Mary McAleese on the 15th October 1999.

 

After the official opening the committee set about building their magnificent Visitor’s Centre – all wheel-chair friendly.

At the final meeting to review the state of finances, the committee presented a credit balance sheet.  They never availed of the Bank of Ireland loan facilities or even paid one cent interest.

The Garden is open all year round, free admission.  Conducted Tours may be given by prior arrangement.  The area in front of the Thatched Heritage House is known as Garraí na bPrátaí (The Potato Garden).  It also doubles up as a picnic area and is a very popular venue for Wedding Photographs, group photos and personal ones.

Sadly, four of the original group have passed on to their Eternal Reward

Céad míle fáilte roimh gach éinne.

                   [ a thousand welcomes to everybody]

 

The catastrophic effects of death and hunger shattered the spirit of the people. Disease and destitution became commonplace The terrible legacy that the famine has endowed on the Irish psyche has been described as a pain that we have passed silently to one another.

An Gorta Mór The Great Famine

In the decade 1841 to 1851 Ireland changed dramatically. Two million people disappeared, one million died and one million emigrated. 1851 marked the end of the potato blight, however, disease and destitution remained. Emigration peaked in 1854 and thereafter remained a fact of life in the 19th century. Community spirit is a defining characteristic of pre-famine Ireland. Communities worked together sharing food, skills and labour. This system of communal sharing without the use of money was called Meitheal or Comhar. The spirit of community pervaded through the rich culture of musicmaking, poetry and storytelling. Irish society before the famine was rich in artistic expression and social values.