Remembering a crime and educating the klan

In the recently released film Black 47 one line of dialogue sums up the enormity of the genocidal enormity of An Gorta Mór.

Lord Kilmichael played by Jim Broadbent says that “this potato business has simplified matters considerably”.

If you think that An Gorta Mór was a natural disaster then perhaps this image will assist you.

During the Famine years, Ireland was a net food exporter while one million Irish people starved to death.

There was no food shortage on this island, but there was a shortage of sovereignty.

We were a colony of the neighbouring island which was the centre of the first trans-global imperium.

They feasted, and we starved.

Those two events were utterly connected.

Local people battled with the Crown Forces as they tried to obtain the grain exports that would have saved their starving children.

Apparently, this is hilarious stuff down Ibrox way…

The plot of Black 47 is simple enough.

James Frecheville as Martin Feeney is a former British soldier who returns home to Ireland in 1847 to discover his family members either starved or executed by the British.

He then uses his military training to exact vengeance of those he considers responsible.

Where the film scores big is using the bleak canvass of the An Gorta Mór to tell an age-old story of love, loss and revenge.

The message within the film is therefore universal, so you don’t have to be Irish to get Black 47, but it probably helps.

When I left the movie, I thought of the Famine Song choir and those who publicly defended them.

When I called out the genocide choir at Ibrox a decade ago, I also noted that Glasgow was atypical in that it was a major reception centre for Famine refuges, but it had no structure to respectfully acknowledge that event.

Now, it appears that it is about to have two!

The Council folk tied themselves up in historical knots about the proposal to have a Famine memorial in the city that received so many who were fleeing An Gorta Mór.

In the end, it would appear that they could not bring themselves to give the Irish in Glasgow something of their own.

The monument in Glasgow Green is an upturned boat, and it commemorates the An Gorta Mór and the Highland Famine.

The latter event did not cause an irreversible demographic change in Scotland.

The former did.

For the avoidance of doubt, the people of the Scottish Gàidhealtachd deserve their own memorial if they so wish it.

That is not the issue here.

Quite simply, the SNP led City Council had an opportunity to, finally, honour the Irish community in Glasgow in a very fitting way.

They chose not to.

One Scotland many cultures?


In response to this municipal manoeuvring, the Irish community in Glasgow decided to build their own memorial.

You can read about it here , and you can follow the progress of this project at @GortaMorGla

Coiste Cuimhneachaín are to be commended for their stoic determination in getting this far.


When I first started writing about this issue I wanted a city centre memorial that was secular and inclusive.

My ideal was to replicate the life-size figures on Custom House Quay in Dublin and place them on the Broomielaw

Unfortunately, the folk within the City Chambers had to give permission for the Irish community to build their own memorial on public land in Glasgow.

There is a currently a competition to select which sculpture will be in the grounds of St Mary’s in the Calton.

This one would get my vote.

If you want to support this project you can contact them here.

Sadly, the Famine Song choir are still with us.

They only long-term solution to that racist subculture is education, and that is best delivered by someone that the racist cannot readily other.

With that in mind a hat tip to the folk at Chelsea FC.

If at some future point there is another offender like Mr William Walls then they will not have that far to travel to be educated about the historical crimes that they find funny at Ibrox.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion