Great Hunger Museum in US

Quinnipiac’s potential to become a global centre for famine studies

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott

Sir, – As the oldest Irish society in the Americas (founded in colonial Boston in 1737), the Charitable Irish Society of Boston welcomes Fintan O’Toole’s article relating to the abrupt closure in 2021 of Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum by Quinnipiac University (“One of the two main museums dedicated to memory of Great Famine has disappeared. That’s astonishing”, Opinion & Analysis, May 14th).

Our society’s historic mission of assisting newly arrived immigrants, initially from Ireland, and now from all over the globe, resonates directly with the world-class collection of paintings, sculpture and artefacts contained within the Quinnipiac collection. The value of the collection in illustrating the lessons and legacy of Ireland as they relate to contemporary global challenges of famine, poverty, forced migration, poor governance and religious discrimination is immense.

Shortly after the museum’s opening, our Society and the Eire Society of Boston made a special trip to the museum, and our members were awed by the experience. The art works viewed enabled us to move beyond the oft-quoted statistic of a 25 per cent decline in Ireland’s population by 1852 to having a greater appreciation of the deep human trauma that An Gorta Mór and its aftermath had for our ancestors. Moreover, the collection serves as a catalyst for its viewers to convert their empathy into action that will help their fellow human beings today. The Irish Famine is a central marker of our identity and an experience that shaped our individual and communal commitments to work for social and economic justice for all in our own times. Our society was shocked and dismayed by the closure and immediately offered help to facilitate the museum’s reopening.

We fully support the goal of Ireland’s Great Hunger Bord to preserve the entire collection and display it in its beautifully designed museum in Hamden. We strongly urge the Quinnipiac administration to reopen the museum within a reasonable time frame, as opposed to their present plans.


By doing so, Quinnipiac University will live up to its published commitment to educate its students and the public about global issues of economic and social justice. We are confident that such a decision would energise the Irish-American diaspora to offer assistance in reopening this collection and developing Quinnipiac’s potential to become a global centre for famine studies.

We urge concerned Irish citizens to contact the Quinnipiac University administration to convey their support for the reopening of this unique treasure of Ireland’s cultural heritage in its initial home in Hamden, Connecticut. – Yours, etc,



Charitable Irish Society of Boston,

West Roxbury,

Massachusetts, US.