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“Giants of Jazz: Art…

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Ireland and New Orleans - Over 200 Years of Shared History 2014 New Orleans Famine Commemoration Committee


Ireland and New Orleans - Over 200 Years of Shared History

2014 New Orleans Famine Commemoration Committee

For Immediate Release                                       

Media Contact: Terri Landry

New Orleans Famine Commemoration Committee

(504) 427-7952

New Orleans Famine Commemoration plans get green light from Ireland


(New Orleans, Louisiana, April 1, 2014)  Local organizers have planned a distinctly New Orleans style event for the 2014 International Irish Famine Commemoration that the city will host in November. New Orleans' Irish and Irish-American communities rallied to create an exciting program of activities for the four-day tribute to those who perished or were forced to flee during the Great Irish Famine in the mid- 19th century.      

     The announcement of the selection of New Orleans as the site of this year's remembrance was made last fall by Jimmy Deenihan, Ireland's Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht. Previous host cities for the event that was established in 2009 include Toronto, New York, Liverpool, Boston and Sydney.

      After receiving the schedule of activities for the November 6 -9 event Consul General of Ireland Paul Gleeson, who is liaison for the commemoration, commented that the 2014 International Irish Famine event in New Orleans "is shaping up to be an outstanding few days, rich in Irish history and heritage."

     "I know our local committee will do a superb job in organizing events which recall the dignity and bravery of our Famine-era Irish emigrants and which also celebrate their remarkable achievements," Gleeson said. "Ireland and New Orleans share a proud history of resilience in the face of adversity and the activities in November are sure to cement and deepen those connections."

    The cultural and historical links between Ireland and New Orleans were strengthened in the wake of Hurricane Katrina when the Irish government committed more than $1 million to local and Gulf Coast disaster relief immediately following the storm. In addition the Irish Consulate donated grants of $50,000 each to St. Dominic School for the replacement of school furnishings; to St Mary's Dominican High School for the restoration of the school library; and to the Archdiocese of New Orleans for the restoration of libraries in five diocesan schools.

     This fall a program of events will honor the victims of the Great Irish Famine, celebrate the contribution of the Irish in their adopted homeland, and raise awareness about hunger in the modern world. Officials from the Irish government as well as members of the diplomatic corps will travel to New Orleans to take part in the International Commemoration.


Thursday, Nov. 6

The starting point for the International Famine Commemoration on Thursday is the port of New Orleans, which served as the gateway to a new life for many thousands of Irish who poured into the city before and during the Great Famine of 1845-52. Irish dignitaries and special guests will arrive by boat at


the Mississippi riverfront where they will be greeted by dancers from the Muggivan School of Irish Dance who will perform at the celebratory kickoff for the event. A welcome reception and introductory lecture to Tulane University's symposium held in conjunction with the International Famine Commemoration, Ireland and New Orleans: From the Famine to Katrina -Stories of Recovery will follow at the Williams Research Center of the Historic New Orleans Collection on Chartres Street.


Friday, Nov. 7

     Plans are being made for a business breakfast on Friday that will be hosted by Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, the New Orleans Famine Commemoration Committee, and the Greater New Orleans, Inc., an economic development alliance serving the 10-parish region of South Eastern Louisiana. The breakfast forum will be an opportunity for business leaders to exchange ideas with visiting Irish officials about economic and cultural cooperative endeavors.

     On Friday the Commemoration symposium continues on the campus of Tulane University. Renowned scholars will examine a variety of topics from the connection between New Orleans and Ireland, to the life Irish immigrants and their descendants created in New Orleans. The lectures will demonstrate that the ties that bind Ireland and New Orleans are not only rooted in the past, but continue to this day. A special exhibit exemplifying Irish life in the Crescent City will also be on display in the university's Jones Hall, Special Collections. The symposium will close Friday afternoon with a keynote address by the Irish Minister.

     On Friday night the Irish Cultural Museum of New Orleans will host Lace Curtain Night, an evening of history, art and cuisine to mark the opening of two special Famine Commemoration exhibits.  An Gorta Mór: The Great Hunger will explore the history of the catastrophic event and examine its impact on New Orleans. The museum is also sponsoring a juried art competition on the theme of hunger and winning entries will be displayed during the Commemoration. Members of the Irish Channel St. Patrick's Day Club will usher in the festivities with a parade through the French Quarter to the Irish Cultural Museum.  The Lace Curtain event will feature popular dishes from a variety of New Orleans restaurants including K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen, with the proceeds going to benefit the Rebuild Center, an outreach ministry of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a congregation that was founded in Ireland in 1775. Under the direction of Sister Vera Butler, the Rebuild Center provides food and assistance to the poor and homeless in the Tulane-Gravier neighborhood. Tickets for the benefit will be available through the Irish Cultural Museum,, and the Lantern Light Ministry.


Saturday, Nov. 8

     On Saturday morning Tulane symposium hosts Dr. Laura D. Kelley and Dr. Terrence W. Fitzmorris will lead an Irish historical tour of New Orleans. These noted historians of Irish New Orleans will take participants on an exploration of the neighborhoods where the Irish settled, visit churches built by the Irish, and walk through St. Patrick Cemeteries, where many Irish yellow fever victims are buried. At these and other stops tour participants will get a more intimate understanding of the significant role of the Irish in the city's history and learn why New Orleans is the most Irish city in the south.

     Also on the lineup for Saturday is an Irish Fest at Kingsley House that will celebrate Irish heritage through music, dance, history, sports and food. The Irish Channel festival will begin with a walk to


benefit Second Harvest Food Bank, a local organization addressing issues of hunger in the city. Following

Walk Away from Hunger is a Gaelic football tournament led by Patrick Mahaney and an Irish dance competition. Other festival activities include a ceili and traditional music session, as well as a dance drama. The  Irish Fest and dance competition will be staged by Joni Muggivan (owner of Irish dance schools in New Orleans, Virginia and Oklahoma), her brother Sean Muggivan, Dorian Joy and event chair Jan Gunther. In honor of the International Famine Commemoration a simple brown button will serve as the ticket to the schedule of heritage activities at the festival. The buttons, which can be ordered online at, are good for discounts through Nov. 7 at a growing list of businesses.    

     On the evening of Saturday, November 8, Irish Network-New Orleans (IN-NOLA) will host a Famine Commemoration Gala at New Orleans' historic Gallier Hall, the former city hall of New Orleans which was designed by Irish architect James Gallier in 1845. Both Irish and local dignitaries will be welcomed to this black tie event which will feature music by the renowned Celtic rock band, Black 47, in one of their final appearances before permanently disbanding. Musical entertainment will be also be provided by New York songstress Tara O'Grady who will perform her unique blend of Celtic, blues and jazz with her Black Velvet Band. This celebration of the Irish influence on New Orleans culture will have traditional Irish dancing and music, as well as New Orleans cuisine from some of the city's finest restaurants, including committee member and acclaimed restaurateur Dickie Brennan's establishments. In recognition that famine still exists in the world today, a portion of the Gala's proceeds will be donated to charities that support famine relief and fight hunger. The event will also help fund the IN-NOLA scholarship program which allows outstanding high school students to attend a summer program at University College in Dublin. For gala registration and IN-NOLA membership information, visit  


Sunday, Nov. 9

     The final event of the 2014 International Famine Commemoration will be a dedication and blessing of a new 4-acre park on the site of the historic New Basin Canal. On Sunday the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Louisiana will celebrate the launch of the Hibernian Memorial Park with a family affair featuring refreshments, food and music on the park grounds. At the heart of the new interpretive site in New Orleans' Lakeview neighborhood is a Celtic cross of Kilkenny marble that was erected nearly a quarter of a century ago to honor the Irish laborers who built the greatest public works project of 19th century New Orleans.  The AOH dedication will feature traditional Irish games for children and performances by Irish dancers.

     Organizing the 2014 New Orleans Famine Commemoration is a committee of representatives from local host organizations, chaired by Judge James F. McKay, Honorary Consul of Ireland for Louisiana. Many of the activities are free and open to the public, but some require ticket purchases. Updates on the program of events and registration details can be found at  or like us on Facebook and Twitter.