Palestine/Irish solidarity gathering in Philadelphia

Gathering for Palestine/Irish solidarity. Philadelphia, March 18, 2024.

Around 75 people came out for a Palestine/Ireland solidarity gathering at the Irish famine memorial in Philadelphia on March 18, organized by the Philadelphia Palestine Coalition and Philadelphia Irish Against Oppression. The very moving event, which included Irish music performed by Kevin McClosky, drew on the strong solidarity between the Irish workers oppressed by Britain and the Palestinians occupied and oppressed by Israel with U.S. backing.  

Speakers, including Áine Ní Sionnaigh from PIAO and Nada Abuasi from PPC, discussed the shared experience of Palestinians and Irish people surviving under colonial occupation and imposed famines, like the situation created by Israel’s genocide against the people of Gaza.

They spoke beside the bronze statue, “The Irish Memorial,” created by artist Glenna Goodacre in 2003. The monument, which includes 35 life-size figures, depicts the starvation, death and emigration caused by the Great Famine in Ireland.

From 1845 to 1852, roughly one million Irish people died from starvation due to famine started by a potato blight but caused by Britain’s shipping the food needed to offset the famine out of Ireland to sell for profits. Even as the Great Hunger ravaged Ireland, records from 1847 alone showed that commodities including peas, beans, rabbits, fish and honey continued to be exported from Ireland to Britain.  

Similar to the Nakba that forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their lands, another million Irish were forced to leave their homeland as refugees.

Before the start of the demonstration, activists from both coalitions decorated the monument with placards and Irish and Palestinian flags, draping keffiyehs on several of the bronze figures. As the rally wound up, Kevin McClosky took song requests from participants. Most popular was the Irish rebel song “Come Out, Ye Black and Tans,” celebrating the Irish Republican Army’s resistance to special reserve constables recruited in Britain and sent to Ireland in 1920 to be used  against its people during the Irish War of Independence.

Bronze figures in Irish Memorial to famine victims draped with keffiyehs. Philadelphia, March 18, 2024.

Philadelphia Irish Against Oppression banner at solidarity with Palestine event. Philadelphia, March 18, 2024.

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