Located on US-12 in the Irish Hills area of Michigan, the An Gorta Mor (“The Great Hunger”) memorial is a permanent memorial to the victims of the Irish Potato Famine of 1845-1850. The An Gorta Mor memorial is built on the grounds of the 1854 St. Joseph’s shrine. Sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the memorial was created by Kenneth M. Thompson and dedicated September 19, 2004.
An Gorta Mor Memorial, Michigan
The choice of materials – stone and metal – reflects the desire for the memorial to be enduring. It is a post and lintel structure, consisting of two limestone columns that support a stone step from the Penrose Quay in Cork Harbor, Ireland as a lintel. A large empty bronze bowl between the posts symbolizes the Great Hunger. The base of the structure is surrounded by cobbles from Donegal, Ireland, which represent the journey of many Irish people to the United States to escape the famine.

Memorial spaces have a dual function. This structure is a physical manifestation of emotion, as the public nature of the memorial brings the private into the public eye. Conversely, public experiences of the memorial may become private depending on people’s history or how they react to the memorial.