HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — One of the dark moments in Irish history is the great famine of the mid-1800s, which killed hundreds of thousands and had many others fleeing to America.
Irish history and culture has been woven into American Society for generations, and that history wasn’t always as bright as that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum displays the world’s largest collection of items from the “Great Irish Famine.”
Right near the main campus of Quinnipiac University is a small, unassuming building intentionally designed that way.
When they were developing the museum, it was made to look like a work house. However, a work house wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
“If you decided to go into a workhouse, then you left your land behind and you had to take your whole family with you,” said Grace Brady, Executive Director.
Opened in September 2012, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the starvation and forced emigration that occurred throughout Ireland from 1845-1852.
“Which started with the potato blight, a fungus that killed the potato crop, and then it was further devastated by lacking relief efforts,” said Brady.
The museum showcases the heartbreak of the Irish people, since one million of them died and two million moved to different countries. Hundreds of pieces fill the walls and rooms of this building showing mass starvation, disease, emigration, and death.
There are many displays in the GreatHungerMuseum including the wall of newspaper clippings from the famine, a sculpture depicting the Choctaw Tribe that donated more than $170 to the famine relief in Ireland, and a video wall that shows illustrations and quotations from the time. The museum has a wealth of knowledge about the famine in Ireland, and the best part about is that it is all free!
So, before you head out to grab a green pint, head over to Hamden to spend some time appreciating the beauty that was created from tragedy0 over 150 years ago.
The museum is located in the Arnold Bernhard Library on the QU campus. For more information visit thegreathunger.org .