Bishop Liam MacDaid, Bishop of Clogher, will bless the new Famine Memorial Garden in the parish of Irvinestown, at its opening tomorrow, Saturday 20 August. Over recent years, the people of Irvinestown (parish of Devenish) have created two new beautiful gardens to mark and honour various aspects of the Christian heritage and the shared past of the local community. Following the opening, Bishop MacDaid will celebrate Vigil Mass at 7.00pm in the nearby Sacred Heart Church.
Like the church itself, the Famine Memorial Garden is located adjacent to the site of the old workhouse, a place that featured so prominently in the harrowing scenes of over a century and a half ago. The new memorial builds on the work already done by a local cross-community group in restoring a Famine graveyard nearby and follows from the earlier creation in 2010 of a Garden of the Celtic Saints at the Sacred Heart Church. Appropriately too, much of the artistic work on these projects is due to the skill and talent of local man Jonas Raiskas, who came to the locality from Lithuania in recent years and who was commissioned by the parish to create some 20 carvings in the Garden of the Celtic Saints plus those in the new memorial garden.
The Famine Memorial Garden has four distinct parts, namely, the potato field, the famine kitchen, the workhouse door and the emigrant ship. These are marked by eight carved pieces by Jonas Raiskas.
Commenting this week, local parish priest Canon Michael McGourty said: “This memorial calls all of us in the community and beyond to reflect not just on our past but on our present. It calls us to address the poverty and famine in our own world today and constantly answer the call of the Gospel to reach out to those in need. Its location and its art does so in a way that brings both the traditional message and the history of Irish Christianity into focus in a profound way. All are welcome to come to these gardens to pray and reflect. Everyone will be especially welcome on Saturday evening when Bishop MacDaid visits us to bless the new memorial garden and to celebrate the Eucharist with us.”