200 years of boat people


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Photo: Ruby Pratka

The Famine Memorial on the banks of the River Liffey in Dublin recognizes the millions of Irish people who fled famine to settle abroad, mostly in North America. More than 70 million people around the world claim Irish heritage today, more than 12 times the population of Ireland; many of them are descendants of families who left during the famine years.

If you ever go to Dublin, extricate yourself from touristy Temple Bar. Cross one of the many bridges over the River Liffey, turn right and pass the Customs House. You should see them by then – half a dozen sculptures of a family, in tattered clothes, as thin- and weak-looking as dead trees, confronting the viewer with a haunting, hunted gaze.