The Great Irish Famine/An Gorta Mór (1845-52) was a pivotal moment in the history of Ireland, resulting in the death of one million Irish people, the emigration of a further million, and leaving a lasting effect on both the survivors and the Irish landscape. Many aspects of this significant event have been represented visually over the years. However, certain histories have been neglected, such as the Public Works Scheme and the constructions that were built as a result of it during this time. Introduced in the early years of the Famine, the scheme enabled the starving Irish to build constructions such as roads, walls, and ditches. As payment, they received food or approximately a penny-a-day. The majority of these constructions had no practical purpose other than to give work to those in need. They remain scattered throughout the Irish landscape, bearing witness to our forgotten past.
“...it is the landscape that has witnessed the event and I who am having to go into that landscape in hope of finding anything tangibly connected to the event.” - Chloe Dewe Mathews
(This project, Ireland's Famine Walls, was undertaken as part of the BA [Hons] Photography course in IADT Dún Laoghaire from 2016-2017. A continuation of this project, Landscape as Witness, was undertaken as part of the Masters by Research course in IADT Dún Laoghaire from 2017-2019. More information on this project can be found here)