Famine, Friends & Fenians Lecture Series

Artwork by: Detail of "Dunluce Castle, County of Antrim, Ireland; 1871"; by C.H. Gifford
Speakers to explore charity, human rights, and social justice, through centuries of struggle in both the US and Ireland


This winter and spring, the New Bedford Whaling Museum is hosting a series of lectures inspired by its successful exhibition "Famine, Friends and Fenians." Guest speakers will explore visual interpretations of the Great Irish Famine, and the global aid response to Ireland’s plight. They will also share stories about historic Irish-American icon John Boyle O’Reilly and dive into Olympic Irish Throwing.

Freedom, equality, civil rights and hope are timeless themes and yearnings that resonate as powerfully today as they did in the mid-nineteenth century. The exhibition "Famine, Friends & Fenians" demonstrates that New Bedford’s Quaker community played a pivotal role at that time, not only in the United States’ struggle for those ideals, but also in Ireland’s tortuous struggle for independence. During the harsh winter of 1846-47, Ireland was in dire straits. The near complete failure of the potato crop, and the British government’s laissez-faire economic approach to the problem only made matters worse. Outrage sparked private donations and charity from around the world for Irish relief efforts and New Bedford’s Quakers were front and center.

The "Famine, Friends and Fenians Lecture Series" expands on many of these themes and picks up new stories that have particular resonance for modern audiences.

Famine, Friends and Fenians Lectures

See lecture details here.

February 16

Visually Commemorating Ireland’s Great Hunger in America: Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac

Grace Brady, Executive Director, Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac


February 23

John Boyle O’Reilly: Irish and American Patriot and Champion of Social Justice
Catherine Shannon, Professor Emerita of History at Westfield State University


March 16

Saving the Famine Irish: Private Charity and the Great Hunger
Professor Christine Kinealy, Director of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute, Quinnipiac University and author of Charity and the Great Hunger. The Kindness of Strangers


April 20

Irish Whales – A Favorable Term for Those Big Lads From Ireland
Philip Conway, Olympian and Father of the Irish Throwing Revival



Lecture: 7 pm  |  Reception: 6 pm

Individual lectures: Museum Members: $10  |  Non-members: $15

Series: Museum Members: $35  | Non-members: $55

Single & series tickets call: 508-997-0046

Online Ticket Registration

Attend any of the four lectures and receive a ticket to an invitation-only meet and greet with scrimshaw artist Gary Tonkin in May. (Details to follow.)






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