In Hobart, the third stop on the President’s six-city, 19-day State Visit to Australia, Sculptor Rowan Gillespie thanked President Higgins for attending the unveiling of "Footsteps".
The art work, comprising four bronze sculptures, commemorates the convict women and their children who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land and disembarked on the Hobart waterfront.
Around 14,000 Irish convicts, both men and women, were transported to Van Diemen's Land. The majority of these arrived after 1840 in the lead-up and during the Great Famine.
In his speech at the unveiling ceremony, President Higgins said they were "victims of a harsh judicial system that valued property above people’s lives."
The President said that the memorial reminds us of “the suffering of migrants of our times” and also evokes the trauma of displacement and forced exile, which the President said "are not experiences confined to our past”.
You can read or listen to the President's speech by clicking on the tabs above.
Some of the President's key speeches on the Gorta Mór include:
- Speech at the opening of the “Coming Home: Art and the Great Hunger” exhibition (2018)
- President dedicates a Famine Memorial sculpture (2017)
- Unveiling of 'Footsteps' (2017)
- 'The economic debate: from the Great Famine to Today' (2017)
- Remarks to representatives of the Choctaw nation (2017)
- Remarks marking UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty (2016)
- 'Recalling, Remembering and Learning from the Great Famine' (2016)
- ‘Feeding the World in 2050′ (2013)
- Remarks at Hunger-Nutrition-Climate Justice Conference (2013)
- Remarks at the Famine Museum (2013)
- 'Reflecting on the Gorta Mór' (2012)
- President launches the CCIFV Lumper Schools Project (2019)
- President unveils sculpture by John Behan (2019)
- President officially opens an Irish-Polish Exhibition on the Great Famine (2019)
- President and Sabina visit Famine Museum in Strokestown House (2018)
- President lays a wreath at the Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine (2017)
- President marks UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (2016)