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