Brendan Graham, internationally acclaimed Irish songwriter and novelist, will deliver this year’s address at the Australian Memorial to the Great Irish Famine, at Hyde Park Barracks in Sydney, on Sunday August 26, 2012. The event is presented by the Great Irish Famine Commemoration Committee.
Graham will present ‘From Famine to Freedom—Ireland to Australia’, a commemoration in word and song of those who suffered during An Gorta Mór (The Great Irish Famine) and of those who fled the Famine to establish a new life in Australia. He has written a new song, Orphan Girl, which will have its premiere performance on the day. The song is dedicated to the memory of the 4,112, mainly teenage Irish orphan girls, who were given a free passage to Australia from workhouses in every county of Ireland between 1848 and 1850.
Four hundred names of these Irish workhouse girls are engraved in the glass panels, fading away as you read them from left to right, representing fading memories. This selection of names represents all who are forced to flee famine and economic hardship.
Sarah Calderwood will join Brendan Graham at the Memorial on 26 August. She is a singer and storyteller who combines classic and contemporary folk. The charismatic front woman of Queensland’s premier Celtic group, Sunas, Sarah has been performing for over a decade, touring nationally and internationally to critical acclaim.
Graham and Calderwood will be joined by the inspirational Australian Girls Choir which has previously performed for Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey, Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama. The choir captured the hearts of the nation with their rendition of ‘I Still Call Australia Home’ for Qantas. They performed Graham’s ‘You Raise Me Up’ at the 2012 Australian Women’s Tennis Open telecast to millions worldwide and will again perform it on this 13th anniversary of the unveiling of the Famine Monument in Sydney.
Ireland has always supported this project, from 2 September 1998 when her Excellency Mary McAleese, President of Ireland initiated work on the Australian Monument to the Great Irish Famine by removing the first stone from the wall which was subsequently realigned and incorporated into the Monument.
For more details of the Monument and this workhouse immigration scheme see: www.irishfaminememorial.org