Irish Famine MemorialPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Father Ted Doncaster

The sculpture commemorates the suffering of the Irish people during the Great Famine.  The sculpture depicts a keening ‘childless mother’, and represents the grief and suffering of millions of Irish people between 1845 to 1852.

The Great Famine of Ireland resulted in a mass exodus from Ireland.  Between 1845 and 1850, more than a million Irish people starved to death while massive quantities of food were being exported from their country. A half million were evicted from their homes during the potato blight, and 1,500,000 starving and destitute people emigrated to America, Britain and Australia, often on board rotting, overcrowded "coffin ships".

More than one million Irish died of hunger and related disease, and two million were forced to flee from the country. In the 1850s and 1860s several thousand women and young girls were relocated from Ireland’s workhouses to begin a new life in Western Australia, most leaving behind family and loved ones. 

The sculpture takes the form of a Celtic double spiral motif, representing the winding and unwinding of borth and death, expressed as a spiritual `walked labyrinth` , drawing the observer on a journey of grief, remembrance, and discovery into the centre of the design, while reading the Famine Prayer inlaid in the paving.  The sculpture of the mother is a personification of "Uaigneas", an eternal expression of loneliness in the Irish language.

The green granite base is encased in a Celtic knotwork band, symbolic of the intertwining of both culture.


Address:Market Square, Subiaco, 6008
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -31.944604
Long: 115.826852
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Sculpture
Monument Theme:Disaster
Approx. Event Start Date:1845
Approx. Event End Date:1852
Artist:Joan Walsh-Smith & Charles Smith (Gidgegannup, WA)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Monday 9th October, 2017
Front Inscription

An Gorta Mór

The Great Hunger

This memorial was erected by the Western Australia Irish Famine Commemoration Inc. in partnership with the City of Subiaco to commemorate the Great Irish Famine 1845 - 1852.

Especially remembered are the girls who arrived in Western Australia in the 1850s following the Irish Famine.

The bronze sculpture depicts a childless Mother keening for her children, lost through starvation and forced emigration as a result of the Famine.

Memorial artists : Charles Smith and Joan Walsh-Smith

Dedicated by : 
The President of Ireland
His Excellency Michael D. Higgins
9th October 2017

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au