Human Rights Institute Opens Exhibit On Ireland's Great Hunger

Opening reception for fall exhibit set to be held Sept. 25

Campus News > Human Rights Institute Opens Exhibit On Ireland's Great Hunger
Human Rights Institute Opens Exhibit On Ireland's Great Hunger
The gallery opening reception will be the first chance for the Kean community to see this exhibit.
Shannon Sheehan, Staff Writer

This upcoming Sept. 25, the Human Rights Institute (HRI), located in the Nancy Thompson Library Learning Commons, is holding their Opening Reception for the gallery that will call the HRI home for the fall semester. The gallery is called "Tragedy & Tribute: Art Illuminates Ireland's Great Hunger." The Ireland's Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University is loaning the exhibit to the HRI until December.

The opening reception will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will be the first chance for the Kean community to get a look at this meaningful exhibit. The reception will feature free food in addition to guests such as Ryan Mahoney, the executive director of the Ireland's Great Hunger Museum and Christine Kinealy, Ph.D.,the founding director of Ireland's Great Hunger Institute.

A piece in the exhibit that explains how the Irish felt hopeless.

The "Tragedy & Tribute: Art Illuminates Ireland's Great Hunger" exhibit has been touring Ireland for the past year, in fact this is the first place in the United States that this exhibit is being shown, besides its home museum at Quinnipiac.

Lauretta A. Farrell, D.Litt., the director of the HRI explained that last year the HRI touched on a lot of issues relating to hunger and food insecurity. A common misconception on these topics is that there is no food, when in reality there is, however it is not properly distributed which leads to people having no access to it.

This display illuminates these ideals and relates it to a historical tragedy. Farrell continued to explain that the potato crop failed in 1845 through 1849, which was the crop that the native Irish solely relied on, as well as used to feed their livestock. The Irish were left with nothing to eat.

Farrell explained, "At the same time Britain, which controlled Ireland at the time, was exporting enough food from Ireland to mainland Europe [that could have fed] all of the people in Ireland seven times over. In turn, their policies led to the deaths of one and a half million Irish and forced another million and a half to emigrate."

This piece portrays the Irish on boats as they were forced to leave their homeland.

She continued, "When you use the word famine it makes it sound like there’s no food, but in fact there was a lot of food, it just wasn't being directed to the people who needed it."

Farrell concluded, "So, that’s why this exhibit is here in the HRI. We use the gallery as a way to expand the educational programming that we do because it gives people an opportunity to sort of experience more of an emotional reaction to a topic."

The HRI strives to inform the students and members of the Kean community on current social justice issues. They give attendees the resources to help spread awareness and contribute to these contemporary issues, whether they directly impact the students and their environment or not. Their ultimate aim is to inspire students and those in the surrounding area to use their voice and spread the ideals of justice and peace.

To learn more about the HRI, be sure to contact them at (908) 737-4672, email Director Farrell at or visit them on the first floor of the Nancy Thompson Library Learning Commons.

about the author

Shannon Sheehan, Staff Writer

Shannon Sheeehan is a Junior Communications major with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing. She joined The Cougar's Byte staff in Spring 2018. After her time at Kean, Shannon hopes to start her professional career in Public Relations and/or Social Media.