However you plan on celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, try to take a moment to honor the contributions of the Irish in Rhode Island by visiting the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial. If you’ve taken our Statues and Monuments self-guided walking tour, you may have made a stop at this monument. If you haven’t yet, the description of this memorial reads:
The Irish Memorial occupies a prominent location along the newly restored waterfront at River Walk in Providence. A larger-than-life statue of three Irish figures sits on a round stone base, bordered by a walkway that incorporates the donor-bricks and flagstones. The walkway leads to a commemorative wall that narrates the history of the Famine amid the Irish immigration. The sidewalk beneath the wall incorporates an outline map depicting the coasts of America and Ireland, emphasizing the courageous journey of the Irish people to the United States. Donor-bricks create an outer semi-circle framing the maps, and flagstones border the sidewalk nearest that runs alongside the river.
The three sculpted figures in the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial symbolically commemorate the suffering of the Irish people during the Great Hunger of 1845 to 1851. The sculpture uniquely combines the despair of the past with an enduring sense of optimism that reflects the strength of our ancestors’ immigration and the joy of our achievements here in America. The printed history of the Famine, on the third side of the triangle, features vignettes of Irish life at the time of the Hunger. Visitors are able to trace the immigrants’ escape to the new world on horrendous “coffin ships” and visualize their struggle in the American urban crucible as our forebears overcome all adversity to build and shape a new home. You and our many successes as Irish-Americans are the crowning end to the noble story. Our memorial remains an enduring symbol to the tragedy and triumph of victims, survivors, and descendants of the Irish Famine.