‘1845: Memento Mori’ Irish tour of glass famine memorial to launch at  Strokestown Park

‘1845: Memento Mori’ Irish tour of glass famine memorial to launch at Strokestown Park

An installation of 1,845 hand-blown glass potatoes 1845: Memento Mori is set to arrive in Ireland from the USA for the first time, to be exhibited as a touring exhibition in multiple venues across the island of Ireland in 2021/22.

The site-specific work will be firstly presented at the historical gazebo tower within the walled gardens of The National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon from 29th May –10th July 2021, kicking off a multi-venue tour over the next few years. This touring exhibition will be virtually launched on Saturday 29th May at 12noon (GMT) by Irish Ambassador to the US, Dan Mulhall as part of the Irish Famine Summer School Conference.

1845: Memento Mori is a Famine Memorial dedicated to the Irish Potato Famine, made by Seattle based Irish artist Paula Stokes and has taken 15 years to complete. 1845 is significant as it references the year that the potato blight came to Ireland, marking the beginning of a period of mass starvation, disease, and emigration. This Famine Memorial will also be exhibiting at Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens in County Wexford (17 July – 21 August); the Ulster American Folk Park in County Tyrone; and the National Museum of Ireland- Country Life in County Mayo.

The form of the installation differs in response to specific locations, changing shape and volume depending on light, accessibility and exposure of each site. In previous installations it has taken the form of a cairn – a traditional stone pile – which implies a grave or burial mound that represents the one million people that died from starvation and related diseases in Ireland between 1845 and 1852.

“We are delighted that the Irish Heritage Trust is hosting such a memorable outdoor exhibition at two of our historic properties in Roscommon and Wexford (Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens) .It is fitting that the first venue for artist Paula Stokes on Irish soil is to be here at The National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, and launched during the Irish Famine Summer School”, said Dr. Emma O’Toole, Collections & Interpretation Manager at the Irish Heritage Trust, which cares for and manages the property. “The story of the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s has particular resonance at Strokestown. Tenants on the estate were hugely impacted, many emigrated or died, and a previous owner of the house and local landlord, Major Denis Mahon was assassinated in November 1847 at the height of the Famine,” she continued.

As a modern-day member of the Irish Diaspora, Paula Stokes reflects on her own history as an immigrant to examine historical events that have shaped the present. “In creating this work, I honour my Irish heritage and culture, and I’m thrilled to be bringing this installation to my home country after 15 years of working on the project,” she said. “I would like to thank the Irish Heritage Trust for believing in me, and for the opportunity to premiere the work in Ireland at Strokestown Park. Its specific history and connection to the Famine adds significant meaning to the interpretation and viewing of the work.  I believe 1845: Memento Mori will resonate with a wide variety of audiences as it reminds us of our own fragile humanity and serves as a connection between shared human experiences in the past and present”, concluded Paula Stokes.


  • *1845: Memento Mori will be launched on 29th May at the Irish Famine Summer School Conference, which is free and accessible via Zoom. Registration details: https://www.strokestownpark.ie/famine/summer-school/.
  • Video about 1845: Memento Mori: https://vimeo.com/527461400/07d559bda8
  • Entrance to the Installation is included in the gardens entry fee €9.25.
  • The 1845: Memento Mori catalogue is on sale at €7.00.
  • This project has been generously supported by the Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial Trust.
  • Social Media: #1845FamineMemorial
  • Photo: Ann Welch “1845: Memento Mori, blown and sandblasted glass, 2019”