The ‘Kindred Spirits’ Monument is located in Bailic Park in Middleton, Ireland. It consists of nine eagle feathers towering twenty feet into the air. The sculpture was made by Irish artist Alex Pentek. It was created at the Sculpture Factory in Cork, Ireland and was later moved to its present location.
The feathers are made of stainless steel and are aligned in a circle. No two feathers are identical. The overall appearance of the sculpture gives it an imperfect impression, with each feather having different bends and creases. The feather, built with more than 20,000 welds, give off a sense of fragility and delicateness. One feels that the sculpture would topple if a strong breeze were to hit it.
The Great Famine
What is the importance of this sculpture? What does it symbolize? The sculpture represents a time of great instability as well a moment of compassion, strength, and togetherness. The Great Famine or the Great Hunger was a period of starvation, disease, and emigration in Ireland. The famine occurred between the years 1845 and 1852. It is often referred to as the Irish Potato Famine as two-fifths of the population was solely dependent on potato.
During this time, approximately one million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland. This reduced the population greatly, falling by 20 – 25%. The cause of the famine was potato blight which ravaged crops throughout Europe in the 1840s. Ireland suffered a hugely disproportionate impact of this blight. The famine had a huge impact on the political and cultural landscape of the country which was then a part of the United Kingdom. It even became a rallying point for several Irish nationalist movements.
The Act of Kindness
In 1831, the Choctaw Indians were forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in Mississipi to what is now known as Oklahoma on a forced march known as the ‘Trail of Tears’. The relocated people suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation while en route. More than four thousand people died before reaching their various destinations.
On hearing the news of the Great Famine, a group of Choctaws gathered in Scullyville, Oklahoma in order to raise a relief fund and were able to raise $170 which is around $4,400 in 2016.
In order to commemorate this act of kindness and humanity, the ‘Kindred Spirits’ sculpture was constructed. Given the violence-ridden times of today, remembering such acts of kindness and humanity always serves as a reminder that we are all a lot more than our selfish desires.