‘Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger’ opens in the ‘ground zero’ of the Irish Famine

People speak to friends at the opening.

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he world’s largest collection of Famine-related art, “Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger,” opened last week in Uillinn, West Cork Arts Centre, Skibbereen, Ireland.

The opening follows a very successful residency at Dublin Castle, with more than 58,000 visitors.

The collection, on loan from Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac, features selected art from 50 of Ireland's most respected artists, including Jack B. Yeats, Alanna O’Kelly, Robert Ballagh, Dorothy Cross and William Crozier.

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Described as ‘ground zero’ of the Famine, the unique exhibition is expected to resonate deeply with the people of Skibbereen and the surrounding areas of West Cork.

Higgins speaks from a podium.

International tour

Ireland President Michael D. Higgins welcomed the internationally acclaimed “Coming Home” exhibition to Ireland.

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“‘Skibbereen was the center of the Famine, therefore it is significant that these artworks will be housed at Uillinn this summer,” said Ann Davoren, West Cork Arts Centre director. “We are very proud to host this exhibition, as it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the people of Cork and visitors to the region to experience this art collection in Skibbereen. We’re collaborating with six cultural partners based out of West Cork all summer, as part of the “Coming Home” program, to host daily tours, musical performances, education workshops, talks and discussions.”

The scale of suffering and loss of the Great Hunger almost defies representation, said Dee Forbes at the event.

“This remarkable exhibition is a reminder of the unique and precious role that artists of all kinds play in enabling us to transcend that which seemed beyond our understanding,” she said. “To host this fantastic exhibition in Skibbereen is a profoundly full circle moment. Those that were lost, sacrificed and abandoned are remembered and honored amongst us in ‘Coming Home.’”

“Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum is honored to bring “Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger” to Skibbereen,” said Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum Director Ryan Mahoney. “It has always been a goal of Quinnipiac University and the museum to bring this collection back to Ireland. To include Skibbereen on the tour — an area that is synonymous with the Great Hunger — was important to all who are involved with this project.”

The exhibition runs through October 13. Admission to the exhibition is free.