The National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park, and Irish Heritage Trust have released In the Midst of Plenty in collaboration with Enchanted Croi Theatre to mark the 2023 National Famine Commemoration. The 2023 National Famine Commemoration will take place on Sunday 21 May in Milford, Co. Donegal, and will be presided over by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. The ceremony is to be held on the site of the old Milford Workhouse and graveyard. It will commence at 2:00 pm (9:00 am Eastern Time) and be broadcast on the RTÉ News channel.
“We are excited to be launching our national tour of In the Midst of Plenty, a new folk-musical, shortly after this year’s National Famine Commemoration event in Donegal,” said Amy Day, the writer and composer/lyricist for the production. Set in 1847 at the height of the Great Hunger, it tells the story of the desperate lengths the starving tenants on the Strokestown estate in Roscommon went to in order to survive, including betrayal, deceit, and violence, when confronted with eviction and mass migration. “We especially look forward to bringing In the Midst of Plenty to Donegal,” added Anne-Marie O’Sullivan, Director of Enchanted Croi Theatre.
Amy Day and Anne-Marie O’Sullivan found inspiration for In the Midst of Plenty in reading records in the Strokestown Park Famine Archive. One of the most spell-binding performances in the video and production is a verbatim musical rendition of a petition submitted by the Widow Kilmartin to her landlord, Major Denis Mahon, on 14 July 1848, pleading not to be evicted. The film transforms her petition into a hauntingly beautiful and heartbreaking melody sung by Grainne Hunt resonating with the fear of eviction, family breakdown, and inconsolable loss in the past and today.
Writing the show during the pandemic forced Amy, a mother of school-aged children, to reflect on the struggles and sacrifices of mothers living through crises. “I was particularly interested in exploring the conflict between community and family. As mothers, we are absolutely dependent on the community. So what happens to a mother who loves her community when the existence of the community itself becomes a threat?” “When I visited the National Famine Museum and experienced its immersive, state-of-the-art presentation of the Great Hunger,” she added, “I knew I had found the right story.”
In the Midst of Plenty will be touring Ireland shortly after the National Famine Commemoration visiting 14 venues across the country. For more information visit the website for In the Midst of Plenty.
In the Midst of Plenty is hosted by the National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park, and Irish Heritage Trust in collaboration with Enchanted Croi Theatre. It is part of the Great Famine Voices 2023 season that is funded by the Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme.
Great Famine Voices 2023 Schedule
You can watch all Great Famine Voices 2023 season videos on the Strokestown website.
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