Famine, Friends & Fenians: Lectures on New Bedford’s curious ties to Irish History

The Famine, Friends & Fenians lectures explored visual interpretations of the Great Irish Famine and the global aid response to Ireland’s plight, expanded one’s knowledge of historic Irish-American icon John Boyle O’Reilly, and dove into Olympic Irish Throwing.

About the Exhibition

Famine, Friends & Fenians, a major exhibition on Ireland and New Bedford, opened in October to rave reviews. It runs through Labor Day. Special thanks to the Carney Family Charitable Foundation and to Norm and Maryellen Sullivan Shachoy for leading the fundraising efforts. Major loans came from the Ryan Family and The Boston Marine Society, Egan Maritime Institute, Marion Antiques, The Charitable Irish Society, and Quinnipiac University. A traveling exhibit on whaling in Co. Mayo from the Irish National Park Service deepens our knowledge and understanding of early 20th century whaling. A comprehensive book is a fine companion piece to the exhibit and explores in more detail the curious links between the here and there.

Learn more about the Famine, Friends & Fenians exhibition and the accompanying photographic exhibit titled Early 20th Century Norwegian Whaling in Co. Mayo, Ireland.

Top banner caption: Detail of Dunluce Castle, County of Antrim, Ireland; 1871; by C.H. Gifford


Thursdays: February 16 & 23, March 16, April 20, 2017
Lecture: 7 pm  |  Reception: 6 pm

February 16

Visually Commemorating Ireland’s Great Hunger in America: Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac

Grace BradyGrace Brady, Executive Director, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac
A talk about the origins of the Great Hunger Museum and its collection with Grace Brady. The museum tells the long story of Ireland and its diaspora and investigates the Irish Famine (1845-52) with the help of visual artists who explore the impact of the loss of life, the leeching of the land, and the erosions of language and culture.


February 23

John Boyle O’Reilly: Irish and American Patriot and Champion of Social Justice

Catherine ShannonCatherine Shannon, Professor Emerita of History at Westfield State University
Catherine Shannon demonstrated that John Boyle O’Reilly’s status as an iconic Irish American leader goes beyond his involvement with the Catalpa rescue. It rests also upon the crucial contributions he made as editor of Boston’s Pilot, and to the vibrancy of the Irish nationalist movement, American democracy and the causes of racial and social justice as a political activist. 


March 16

Saving the Famine Irish: Private Charity and the Great Hunger

Christine KinealyProfessor Christine Kinealy, Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University and author of Charity and the Great Hunger. The Kindness of Strangers
During the Great Hunger (An Gorta Mór), Ireland lost approximately one-quarter of its population through a combination of death and emigration. The imperial government chose not to help. Global news coverage prompted private philanthropy on an unprecedented scale. People throughout the world mobilized to provide money, food and clothing. Many had no direct connection with Ireland and the generosity cut across religious, ethnic, social and gender distinctions.  


April 20 

Irish Whales – A Favorable Term for Those Big Lads From Ireland

Philip ConwayPhilip Conway, Olympian and Father of the Irish Throwing Revival
Irish record holder and multi-event national champion, Conway’s career culminated in representing his country in the 1972 Munich Olympics. Since then he has guided over a hundred young athletes to America and 10 on to the Olympic Games. He looked back to when Irish and Irish Americans dominated the field events in the Olympics and on how America gave opportunity to so many.
View lecture on YouTube



Online Price: Museum Members: $9  |  Non-members: $14
Door Price: Museum Members: $10  |  Non-members: $15

Attendees of all four Famine, Friends & Fenians lectures received a ticket to an invitation-only meet and greet with scrimshaw artist Gary Tonkin in May.


catalog image

Purchase Online
Phone: 508-997-0046 ext 127
At the Museum store – The White Whale

Last modified: August 15, 2017