Retracing the steps of Famine emigrants in Warrenpoint

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Friday, September 25th, 2015
Community, Old Newry, What's On

One of the highlights of this year’s Annual Famine Commemoration will be the Newpoint Players’ production ‘Retracing The Steps’ which will be performed in Warrenpoint on Sunday 27th September at locations by the waterside from 2pm – 3.30pm.

Caption: Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Naomi Bailie is pictured at Warrenpoint Harbour with Newpoint Players Donal O'Hanlon and Sean Treanor. The Lady Caroline ship set sail to New Brunswick, Canada from this point during the Famine. The Newpoint Players’ production 'Retracing The Steps’ , will seek to illustrate some of the realities of the Famine as experienced at the time, performed in Warrenpoint on Sunday 27 September at locations by the waterside from 2pm – 3.30pm.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Naomi Bailie is pictured at Warrenpoint Harbour with Newpoint Players Donal O’Hanlon and Sean Treanor

The scenes, written and devised by Sean Treanor and directed by Aveen Stewart, Emma O’Hanlon, Donal O’Hanlon and Mark Hughes, will be performed by the youth and senior Newpoint groups and will seek to illustrate some of the realities of the Famine as experienced at the time.

Speaking to Newry Times, Sean Treanor explained, “It is impossible to read the accounts of our historic famine emigration and not be struck by the parallels between the experience of today’s migrants and the experience of Irish people leaving Warrenpoint from the Newry, Down and Armagh area two and a half centuries ago.

“There will be one central scene played out near the Warrenpoint slipway for the visiting dignitaries attending the unveiling of the Famine Commemoration monument. This scene will seek to give a sense of the different types of people leaving the port in 1845-49, their backgrounds and hopes.

“The dangers faced by emigrants leaving on ships such as the infamous “Hannah”, will also be alluded to in this scene as will the benevolence of locals such as James Harshaw and Dr Bryson.”

Sean added that some small degree of poetic license was required in bringing characters such as Bryson and Harshaw to the port area but the scenes are all based on true and recorded events.

Other scenes prepared by Newpoint include scenes of Outdoor Relief Schemes, Soup Kitchens and Street Singing by the destitute.

Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Cllr Naomi Bailie will welcome Minister Heather Humphries, Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, who will unveil the district’s Official Famine Commemoration monument, at the waterside near the slipway opposite the Lough and Quay.

The Honorary Consul for Canada, Mr Kenneth Brundel will also be present, to acknowledge the destinations in the “New World” towards which so many ships set sail. The ship Lady Caroline, whose agent was Francis Carvill, from Newry, set sail from Warrenpoint to St John, New Brunswick in June 1847.

Looking forward to the event, Cllr Bailie said, “The unveiling of this monument by Minister Humphries recognises that Newry, Mourne and Down District Council hosted the National Famine Commemoration 2015; the culmination of months of planning and preparation.

“This monument will serve as a reminder that the commemoration took place in the district, and that this location was an embarkation point to thousands of people who left these shores hoping for better and more prosperous lives in far off destinations like St John.

She added, “I am looking forward to welcoming Minister Humphries and the Honorary Consul for Canada, Kenneth Brundel, to Warrenpoint but the highlight of the afternoon will be the Newpoint Players performance. This poignant event is free to the public and is a fitting end to a the Council’s Famine Commemoration events.”


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