Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Irish Hunger Memorial

My trip to New York was filled with a lot of wandering museums and memorials independently, in other words, alone. Not terribly exciting by some standards but it was refreshing to depend only on myself and set a schedule according to my own whims. It was needed to remind myself that I can stand on my own two feet. Traveling alone is an entirely different experience than traveling with friends or family. One nice things about traveling alone is you can feel all the feelings you need to feel whenever you need to feel them (how's that for articulating emotion?), you don't have to worry about ruining the experience for the people around you or be embarrassed when you get a little emotional on the side of a fake hill. It's pretty cathartic. Try it sometime.

Said fake hill was the Irish Hunger Memorial, built in remembrance of victims of the Irish Potato Famine. It's a beautiful memorial, not the typical marble pillars and bronze statues. It's constructed like a hillside. You enter from underneath through a tunnel and emerge into the center of the ruins of an old stone cottage. The cottage is a real cottage that was shipped over from Ireland and reassembled for the memorial. A walkway leads to the top of the hill where you can look out over the river to the New Jersey skyline on the other side. Heather, clover and other flora found growing on the hills of Ireland covers this hill too. Stones with each of Ireland's county names--Kildare, Clare, Galway, etc--engraved on them line the walkway. It feels like they cut a slice out of the Irish countryside and plopped it in the middle of the financial district. It's not imposing or heavy-handed. It doesn't force you to remember the dead or the suffering, it let's you experience a little bit of what those who had to immigrate to escape the famine were forced to leave behind.

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