The Great Hunger Commemoration
The Great Hunger – An Gorta Mór
The Great Hunger Memorial was dedicated on November 25, 1995 and was the first of several monuments on the Bergen County Courthouse lawn.
Originally commemorated by the Bergen County Council of Irish Associations in the month of November, the Irish Government in 2008 declared that May would be the national and international month of commemoration for An Gorta Mór. The Bergen Irish Council now commemorates it on the first Saturday in May, on the lawn of the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, New Jersey. In inclement weather it is held at the Freeholders Public Meeting Room at One Bergen County Plaza, also in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Before 1995, no monuments had been erected anywhere to signify the Great Hunger. It is theorized that those forced to immigrate did not want to discuss the tragedy. It may have been because of shame or embarrassment, as they felt they had lost the battle.
Originally, The Great Hunger was known as the Famine because the British Government wanted history to reflect the notion that it was a natural disaster. With research in the 20th century it became known that British law and contempt for the Irish contributed to the suffering and starvation of the Irish People. British laws were passed to clear the land of the native Irish and to continue to send grain to England.
The Great Hunger was a period of mass starvation, disease and emigration in Ireland between 1845 and 1852. During the Great Hunger approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, causing the country's population to fall by between 20% and 25%. In 1841 Ireland’s population was over 8,000,000; by 1871 it was reduced to 4,000,000.
The Great Hunger was a watershed in the history of Ireland as its effects permanently changed the island's demographic, political, and cultural landscape for both the native Irish and those in the resulting diaspora.