An Gorta Mór helped to create modern Glasgow.
In fact it is difficult to think of any other event in the last 150 years that had such a lasting impact on the city’s demography and culture.
Therefore it became increasingly puzzling to me that this event was not commemorated in the public space in the city before now.
Subsequently it was heart-warming yesterday to hear of Feargal Dalton’s motion being passed in the City chambers.
As had been previously reported here the SNP councillor for Partick had decided to put this before his colleagues in the city chambers at the first available opportunity.
Clearly some in Glasgow who will have an issue with this (clue: they sing the “famine song”) it suits them fine enough that there is no public recognition in the city of An Gorta Mór.
Any country that harbours people who would take offence at a memorial to Irish children killed in a tragic fire has some serious issues.
Now that there will be some kind of memorial the next move for such folks is to carry out the sculptural equivalent of ethnic cleansing.
They want historical revisionism written into stone or bronze.
However the historical issues are not in question.
What they now want to achieve as a fall-back position is a Famine memorial that isn’t really a Famine memorial.
Anyone who has a problem with a sculpture that specifically commemorates An Gorta Mór in Glasgow has simply a problem with the Irish and Irishness.
The condition is commonly referred to as “racism.”
Yet such backward people should not define a great city.
I am told that Feargal Dalton was listened to in silence as he put the motion and was loudly applauded across the political divide in the chamber.
However, some in the city will have a problem with the very idea of commemorating this seminal event in the creation of modern Glasgow.
In the words of an Irishman currently living and working in Glasgow they really should have a good look at themselves
An Gorta Mór claimed many victims, in the main they were poor rural people and the Famine did not discriminate on the grounds of religion, cultural background or political persuasion.
My grandmother’s uncle was not much more than a toddler when he died during the famine.
A major beneficiary of this humanitarian disaster was the Catholic Church in Ireland.
For anyone interested in following this strand of the story I can recommend the late Emmet Larkin’s prolific work on the subject.
Yesterday was an important first step and there is much work still to be done, but we will get there.
There were people within the Irish community who told me that I was wasting my time with bringing up the famine memorial issue.
They said that it would never get any official traction and that the entire campaign was futile.
I have three words for them in the language that the Famine almost extinguished.
Is feidir linn