The Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield, Connecticut

The location for the new museum is not arbitrary but a strategic choice

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – In response to “One of the two main museums dedicated to memory of Great Famine has disappeared. That’s astonishing” (Fintan O’Toole, Opinion & Analysis, May 14th), as president of the Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield (IGHMF) and a member of the Gaelic American Club in Fairfield, Connecticut (GAC), I wish to offer a perspective that reflects our shared commitment to preserving and honouring our rich Irish heritage.

We at the IGHMF are tirelessly working to establish a new home for the Great Hunger Museum’s collection; a task we approach with a deep personal and professional commitment that mirrors the dedication seen in volunteers across all fields of Irish cultural preservation.

The location for the new museum is not arbitrary but a strategic choice. It will be situated in the heart of Fairfield, Connecticut’s historic district, in a building formerly occupied by the Fairfield Museum. This area is already a hub of cultural activity, adjacent to an Irish club with 6,000 members, and within walking distance of other museums, a well-known historic mansion, and downtown Fairfield. The museum is strategically placed near three major universities, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, and Fairfield, that host robust Irish studies programs, and is conveniently located halfway between Boston and New York and near a major train station. This location aims to make the museum accessible and transform this district into a significant tourist attraction that celebrates Irish heritage.

The current occupants of the building are the compassionate team at Operation Hope, a food bank committed to fighting hunger in Fairfield; a poignant reminder that hunger is not merely a historical issue but a current challenge. This ongoing struggle against hunger resonates deeply with the Irish psyche, still scarred by the Great Hunger. We have built a strong relationship with Operation Hope and intend to continue this partnership once they relocate to their new facility. This collaboration underscores our commitment to addressing hunger both as a historical subject and a present-day reality.

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We have worked closely with Quinnipiac University, which has continued to preserve the collection and follow the most stringent environmental and security controls required for the proper care of the art. Quinnipiac is also supporting temporary exhibits in several East Coast locations. The university has been incredibly supportive, agreeing to donate the entire collection to us once we establish a solid foundation and prepare the new museum space. We are also actively forging partnerships with established art centres in Ireland and other Irish organisations, deepening the cultural connections between Ireland and Connecticut, ensuring that the legacy of the Great Hunger is remembered and respected on both sides of the Atlantic.

This project is a testament to the dedication of many who spend every possible moment working to ensure our history is not just remembered but given the honour and the permanence it deserves. Our efforts are about creating a place that not only educates but also resonates with the profound impacts of the Great Hunger on generations.

For those inspired to support our mission, please visit our website at IGHMF.org and consider contributing to this cause. Together, we can ensure that the Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield becomes a beacon of learning and remembrance. – Yours, etc,

JOHN D FOLEY,

Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum of Fairfield,

Fairfield,

Connecticut, US.

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