City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan Awards the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial with a Grant to Protect and Preserve this Iconic Memorial in the City of Providence

Apr 7, 2021 | 0 comments

On Monday April 5, Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) awarded the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial Committee a City Council grant of $25 thousand to create enhanced security and to provide for future upkeep of the monument located on River Walk along Memorial Drive.

In 2018, there was serious damage done to this iconic monument and these funds will go to help create safeguards to protect the monument from further vandalism or destruction for the years to come.

“On behalf of the Providence City Council I am honored to present this award intended to support and protect this poignant memorial in the heart of our Capital City.

This memorial is a beautiful piece of art designed to educate and honor those who decades ago; concurred, starving and cast aside, struggled to seek a new life; it’s the original American Exceptionalism story; a grand triumph over tragedy, only to be repeated by countless others in pursuit of the American Dream,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5)

The Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial had suffered major damage in August 2018 from vandalism and theft at the site. Several of the Bronze Plaques on the Historical Narrative Wall, which tell the story of Ireland’s Great Famine and its consequences, were stolen.

Dr. Donald D. Deignan, President of the Rhode Island Irish Famine Memorial Committee, Inc added, “We, as a Committee and as representatives of Rhode Island ‘s entire Irish-American community, are all deeply grateful to City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan—and to all her colleagues—for their generous financial support of our ongoing efforts to enhance security measures at the Famine Memorial site located along the Riverwalk in Downtown Providence. Improved lighting, and other security devices which these Community Grant Funds will enable us to install, will better protect the Famine Memorial from further vandalism and theft and preserve our complex and deeply meaningful Monument for many generations of visitors to come,”.

The immediate damage has been fixed. However, there are plans for ongoing maintenance and increased security.

Mary Smith of the Irish Famine Memorial Committee shared, “The grant we received will not only allow us to enhance the security to protect our memorial but will hopefully help deter damage to other memorials along River Walk. Our Committee strives to present and preserve a tribute to an important piece of Irish history for residents and visitors alike. In doing so, we also recognize the importance of respecting the culture, heritage and traditions of the many immigrants that call our Country home.”

To learn more about the Irish Famine Memorial, please visit

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