December 1864, at the height of the Great Famine, the Board
of Guardians of Carrick-on-Shannon Workhouse directed the
Master to appropriate the north corner of the Workhouse grounds
for the burial of the dead. The taking of this decision was
as a result of a complaint from the Rev. William Percy of
the Parish of Kiltoghert relative to the improper internment
of deceased paupers in the Parish churchyard. The site of
that burial ground in which hundreds of the victims of the
Famine, many of them children, is at the rear of what is now
St Patrick’s Hospital. Its use as a graveyard was discontinued
during the 1940’s and trees were planted on the site.
Eventually the area became over-grown.
To commemorate the one hundred and fiftieth
anniversary of the Great Famine, Carrick-on-Shannon and District
Historical Society decided to take on the task of turning
the site of this old graveyard into a Garden of Rememberance.
This scheme had the co-operation of the Matron of the hospital,
Ms. Fullard, and of the North Western Health Board. With the
help of the local M.R.D. and a FAS team, the area was soon
cleared of all unwanted growth. Paths were laid and flower
beds planted. Plaques were erected to the memory of all that
died during those terrible years. These plaques were sponsored
by the New York Leitrim Society, Michael Reynolds & Sons,
Carrick-on-Shannon and the Historical Society. A fountain
was placed in the centre of the Garden.
On Saturday 18th July 1998, following a prayer
service conducted by Rev. Brian Brennan and Rev. Ivan Biggs,
President Mary McAleese officially opened the Garden of Remembrance.
In her opening statement the President said :
“In dedicating this small part
of Carrick-on-Shannon – the Famine Graveyard in the
shadow of the former workhouse (itself a place that featured
in the Great Famine), you are in a sense completing the process
of grieving and accepting the terrible tragedy that has affected
all our lives on way or another. That process of acceptance
allows us to look back and reflect on what happened –
to consider the factors that contributed to it – and
to recognise that it is now very much part of our make-up.”
It is hoped that as many people as possible,
young and old, will continue to visit the Garden. It is a
reminder to all of the terrible tragedy that befell this country
over a century and a half ago and also a reminder that famine
still afflicts many Third World Countries today.