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  • 23 April 2019

    President Higgins launched the exhibition on Paul Strzelecki and his achievement to save over 200,000 children during the Great Irish Famine on 8 May in the Royal Irish Academy.


    In his speech, President Higgins stressed the importance of Strzelecki's role in fighting the Famine as well as the relevance of contemporary Irish-Polish relations:

    Today, we are recognising a special friend of the Irish, Paul (Paweł) Edmund Strzelecki, one of the great Polish humanitarians of the nineteenth century(..). Ireland and Poland have much in common. Our shared history is enriched by deep economic, cultural and personal ties, as well as our shared membership of the European Union. Contemporary Irish-Polish relations are dynamic and growing, bolstered in no small part by the vibrant Polish community in Ireland, men and women who have chosen to make Ireland their home and who, may I acknowledge, are making such a vital contribution to our society."



    Watch a video from the exhibition launch




    The exhibition can be viewed in The Royal Irish Academy (19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2) until 30 August (Monday-Friday)


    For more information on the exhibition, venues and opening times, please go to:





    The exhibition “A Forgotten Polish Hero of the Great Irish Famine: Paul Strzelecki’s Struggle to Save Thousands”  explores the fascinating life and achievements of one of the great humanitarians of the nineteenth century, whose contributions to Irish Famine relief have yet to be widely known and commemorated.



    Count Paul (Paweł) Strzelecki, a world-renowned Polish explorer and scientist, volunteered to work in Ireland to combat raging Famine over a three-year period (1847-49) as the main agent of the British Relief Association (B.R.A).

    In order to alleviate the critical situation of famished Irish families and especially children, Strzelecki developed a visionary and exceptionally effective mode of assistance: feeding starving children directly through the schools. He extended daily food rations to schoolchildren across the most famine-stricken western part of Ireland, while also distributing clothing and promoting basic hygiene. At its peak in 1848, around 200,000 children from all denominations were being fed through the efforts of the B.R.A., many of whom would have otherwise perished from hunger and disease.


    Despite suffering from the effects of typhoid fever he contracted in Ireland, Strzelecki dedicated himself tirelessly to hunger relief. His commitment was widely recognized and praised by his contemporaries, and this exhibition endeavours to bring his achievements and legacy back into the public eye.





    The content of the exhibition was commissioned from leading experts in the field – Prof. Peter Gray (Queen’s University Belfast) and Assoc. Prof. Emily Mark-FitzGerald (University College Dublin) – and includes several rarely seen images of Famine relief and charity, drawn from collections of major museums and libraries in Ireland, Britain, Australia and the United States.



    Prof. Gray and Assoc. Prof. Mark-FitzGerald will also deliver a lecture Paul Strzelecki and the Great Irish Famine on Wednesday, 12 June, 2019, at 13:00 in the Royal Irish Academy – the event is open to all.  



    The exhibition is presented in English and admission is free.



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