MOUNT DESERT — Mary Harney, College of the Atlantic graduate, will make a presentation on the Irish Potato Famine at the Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor on Saturday, Feb. 7, from 1:30-3 p.m. The event is hosted by the Acadia Friends Quaker Meeting and will be followed by a question-and-answer period.
Harney will present an overview of the little known life-saving activities of Quakers in Ireland during the worst years of the Irish Potato Famine, 1846-1849. Her presentation will start with a brief look at the social history of Ireland on the eve of the potato blight, which the Irish call “The Great Hunger.” During the worst catastrophic event in Irish History, the Irish Society of Friends (Quakers) helped thousands of people to survive starvation and disease. With more and more Mainers seeking food stamps and visiting food pantries, would past Irish experience provide ideas for preventing hunger in our own country?
Born in Ireland, Harney came to Maine in 1992 to attend College of the Atlantic, graduating in 1996. She returned to Ireland to earn a master’s degree in Irish studies with First Class Honors. In 2014, she received an honorary master’s in philosophy from COA. She currently teaches a course on the Irish Famine and the effects of Irish immigration to the state of Maine in the aftermath of The Famine.