SPUD X: The Big Dig

X-SPUD | A Temporary Famine Memorial at the Irish National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon.


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Photograph by  by Tadhg Leonard 2015 Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Irish Famine Museum.

X-SPUD was concieved by Deirdre O’Mahony as a temporary Famine memorial and curated by Linda Shevlin at the Irish National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon. The artwork takes the form of two intersecting potato ridges planted in an “X”. The ridges were planted by local participants including members of the Loy Association of Ireland during The Big Dig on 29th March. The “X” is strategically positioned on the church lawn between the Strokestown house and the mausoleum, by an oak tree planted to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Oscar Wilde's release from prison.

By focusing on the potato and its cultivation in the context of the National Famine Museum, the ‘X’ draws attention to the intersection of space and time; to the Great Famine, its relationship to the globalised world we live in today and the relevance of tacit, place-based knowledge and embodied memory in relation to commemoration and the Great Hunger.  

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The Big Dig planting took place was planted on 29th March 2015, on the church lawn in front of Strokestown Park mausoleum. The ridges were planted with the blight resistant Blue Danube Sarpo variety. By focusing on the potato and its cultivation within the context of the Great House and the Irish National Famine Museum, The Big Dig points to the ever-present relevance of embodied memory in relation to global food security, whilst commemorating the Great Hunger in a specific and meaningful way. The project also provides space to publicly think through the present day social and economic aspects of the Famine’s legacy and the relationship between Strokestown and the wider communities of the area.

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Thanks to enthusiastic help  local participants and particularly the Loy Association of Ireland whose members generously shared their knowledge and skills, the day was a great success and the 'X' completed.

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Deirdre O'Mahony's The Big Dig limited edition screenprint on pale yellow archival Hahnemühle Ingres, acid-free paper is available to purchace at €100 

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Photograph by Linda Shevlin.

Despite intermittant rain and a very wet site the potato ridges stand clear of the water, links to both the past and the future - reminders of the cultivation knowledge that remains relevant today. 


The Big Dig was curated by Linda Shevlin with the assistance of a Visual Arts Curatorial Residency award Funded by The Arts Council and Roscommon County Arts Office.

AC FUND VisualArts