Boston Irish Famine Memorial – Boston, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

Boston, Massachusetts

Boston Irish Famine Memorial

Dedicated to one of the darkest moments in Irish history, this memorial has faced its fair share of backlash.  

The Boston Irish Famine Memorial is a popular spot for hungry tourists and workers to enjoy their lunch amid bustling downtown Boston. However, few tourists and corporate lunch-goers realize the statues are dedicated to one of the worst famines in human history. It’s also a memorial that has been embroiled in controversy. 

There have been numerous calls over the years for the monument to be updated. The memorial was labeled by Boston Globe art critic Sebastian Smee in 2013 as, “the most mocked and reviled public sculpture in Boston.” The sculpture depicts two Irish families; one starving and emaciated while combating famine in Ireland, and another well-nourished Irish family thriving having found prosperity in the United States. The memorial also features eight narrative plaques. 

Critics of the memorial feel the image represents a cliche narrative. There have also been voices calling for the monument to be moved to a more prominent location where its history can be rightfully and accurately explored. However, nothing has happened as of yet, and the statue remains as it did when it was first constructed more than two decades ago. 

Know Before You Go

The memorial is located between Walgreens and Chipotle, near State and on the Freedom Trail. 

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