The Irish Memorial
This memorial commemorates the struggle and pain of those Irish who fled their homeland in the face of a hunger of catastrophic proportions. It celebrates their courage that forged an enduring link between Ireland and America.
The Great Famine, or the Great Hunger, was a period in Ireland between 1845 and 1849 of mass starvation, disease, and emigration. The Great Hunger in Ireland led to the greatest loss of life in western Europe in the 100 years between the Napoleonic Wars and World War I. Whole families and villages fell to starvation and accompanying diseases. Cholera, deadly fevers, dysentery, scurvy and typhus swept the population. People died in such great numbers that it was impossible to record all the deaths or to make enough coffins for burials.” Trap coffins,” which were made with a trap door in the bottom, were used for the trip to the cemetery. Once there, the coffin was placed over the grave and the trap door opened to drop the body into it, leaving the coffin ready for the next victim.
The Irish Memorial is located adjacent to the southeast corner of Front and Chestnut Streets in downtown Philadelphia and is part of the Historic District.