Background: The objective of the Memorial is to promote awareness and understanding of the Irish Potato Famine, a devastating catastrophe that struck Ireland from 1845-1851. With the loss of its potato crop for five successive years, Ireland's rural population was driven to near extinction. One million died, while two million emigrated to save themselves from a similar fate. Most of those emigrants came to America.
Oregon: A great many Famine Irish traveled the Oregon Trail to Portland, or sailed by ship around the Horn. Census records show that between 1850 and 1880, the Irish were Portland's largest foreign born group, comprising almost ten percent of the City's population.
Design: The Memorial is a reproduction of the Cross of the Scriptures, a Celtic High Cross, located at the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly, Ireland. A Celtic Cross design was chosen for the Memorial because it symbolizes Ireland's contribution to world history and western civilization. The Celtic Cross is also a potent symbol of Ireland's sovereignty, similar to the shamrock and the harp.
The remastered replica was hand carved in Donegal Town, Ireland, by Brendan McGloin, an Irish stone sculptor, using only hand tools in a centuries old tradition, and shipped to Oregon.
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