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Great Famine ‘should be taught’ in California schools

An Irish American politician is campaigning for ‘The Great Famine’ to be a part of the US curriculum.

Imagine carrying your child - not knowing whether he's dead or alive. Famine statues, Dublin

Millions of Irish people were forced to leave their homeland in the mid-1800s, as a series of failed potato crops left them starving and unable to survive. Millions more stayed and died in one of the biggest mass tragedies in world history.

The British government’s refusal to use its vast resources to aid the Irish public led to decades of resentment, which led to the Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence in the early 20th century as the Irish rebelled against the unjust conditions they were being forced to endure.

Help Irish American children understand their roots

Now John F O’Riordan, originally of County Cork but now a member of the California Democrat Party, wants this significant chapter in American and Irish history to be taught to children to help them understand their roots.

Millions of Californians are of an Irish heritage, but currently there is no reference to The Great Famine in schools. O’Riordan is determined to change that and said: “The Famine is central to the history of California and the United States.”

He met with the California State Superintendent of Public Instruction recently to discuss ‘The Great Famine’ being included on the curriculum in future years.

Another meeting, this time with the director of Curriculum for California’s Department of Education is scheduled soon.

Campaign backed by high profile figures

Various high profile Irish American figures have backed the campaign.

Pat Uniacke, the former president of the Gaelic Athletic Association in North America, said: “This represents an opportunity to share the story of the voiceless Irish people who perished during the Famine and those who survived to build a new life in America.

”It will also provide an opportunity to remind our children of our constant obligation to the poor and suffering throughout the world.”

If O’Riordan is successful, then children in California may soon be studying the lives of historical figures such as Michael Collins and Kevin Barry, who died in the fight for Irish freedom less than a century ago.

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  1. margaret mary erben

    I Agree Wanda!! Let Us Never Let Our People Forget What Happened To Us! I’m From New York And Believe It Should Be Taught In All Our Schools!!!!!!!!!!! Margie (Donovan) Erben

  2. You’re absolutely right Peggy, thanks for pointing this out. It has now been corrected 🙂

  3. I believe there might be an error in this article. The Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence were in the early 20st century, correct?

  4. I think its a laudable decision to teach Irish History in American schools. However I beg you to get it right. What has commonly been referred to as the famine was actually the British Empire trying desperately to ‘solve’ the Irish question! It was attempted genocide. No better or worse than the Germans attempt with the Jews. The only difference was thar we had to farm and watxh the proceeds shipped to England while we starved! Men who tried to stewl a bit of corn or wheat were caught and sent to the colonies! They had ro leave helpless starving wives ans children behind forever exiled and hopeless! If you do , and i hope it will be the case, tea h irish history please don’t ever let that terrible time be referred to as the famine….The Great Hunger, Genocide. …either one is appropriate. Thank you.

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