The Irish Memorial Park, located at Front and Chestnut Street in Philadelphia, was created to commemorate the sesquicentennial anniversary of An Gorta Mor, Ireland’s ‘Great Hunger’ (1845 to 1852). The centerpiece of the memorial is a large figurative sculpture by Glenna Goodacre, and the park setting was designed by Pauline Hurley-Kurtz ASLA, and Associate Professor, Temple University.
The primary objective in the design of the Irish Memorial Park was to create a contemplative garden of remembrance and hope. We designed a large circular space to allow for the appreciation of the Goodacre sculpture in the round. The main axis of the sculpture was oriented towards the southwest to maximize natural lighting of its many figures and faces. Entry paths were oriented to frame specific thematic views within the sculpture…hunger, emigration and arrival in the new world. In addition, views to the memorial from the main pedestrian corridor on Chestnut Street were framed with red maple trees within a grassy meadow. Hawthorn and crabapple hedgerows evoke the character of the Irish landscape to the east of the park, while juneberry and viburnum recall a Piedmont woodland edge to the west. Fieldstone walls and standing stones also recall the character of the Irish landscape.
The project was developed by the Irish Memorial Inc., under the leadership of James J. Coyne, and was dedicated in October 2003. It is managed by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.
A Poetic Remembrance by Peter Quinn (This last stanza included on the sculpture)
The time to take away the silence has come, in ceremony,
ritual, art, music, scholarship, to honor the dead, to
recount, to commemorate, to mourn what was lost –openly…
to celebrate what survives – without apology or fear.
We have it in our power not only to remember what took
Place but to relive it…
To find in the immigrants, in the poor, in the hungry
Irish Memorial Project Design and Construction Team
Design Landscape Architect
Pauline Hurley-Kurtz, ASLA
Landscape Architect of Record
The Delta Group
John F. Collins, FASLA, President
Neal Belanger, ASLA, Vice President
Dermot MacCormack, Principal
Patricia McElroy, Principal
The Irish Memorial Inc.
James J. Coyne, President
John Donovan, Vice President
JJ White Inc.
James Molyneaux Company
Ammann and Whitney
Ernesta Ballard Healing Garden
The 2006 Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit titled ‘Nature Nurtures, Mind, Body and Spirit’ inspired the idea to establish a Healing Garden on the Ambler Campus. The exhibit demonstrated Healing Garden and sustainable design principles, including a labyrinth within a native plant flora, and garnered two awards.
Subsequent to the Flower Show, there was consensus among faculty, administration and arboretum staff that it would be appropriate to create a healing garden on the Ambler Campus and to honor the memory of Ernesta Ballard within the garden.
Mrs. Ballard was a 1954 alumna of the Pennsylvania School of Horticulture for Women and served as Director of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. Under her leadership, the Society’s Annual Flower Show became a world renowned Horticultural event. She established Philadelphia Green – a community greening program which turns vacant lots into flower and vegetable gardens throughout the city. In addition to honoring Mrs. Ballard the garden also demonstrates the three main areas of focus of the Ambler arboretum – sustainability, the health benefits of gardens, and the history of women in horticulture, agriculture and design.
The Healing Garden design, construction documentation and field work was integrated across a number of studios and classes including the 2006 and 2007 Junior Design Build Studios; the 2008 Sophomore Studio; the 2007and 2008 Planting Design class and the 2008 Soils class. Plant material and stone from the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Flower Shows were recycled in the Healing garden construction. A storm water system including rain gardens and a bio-swale was incorporated to mitigate runoff from the roof of Dixon Hall. This project has added a unique garden to the Ambler campus arboretum, a garden based on sustainable design principles incorporating a rain garden, a bio-swale, native plant palette and labyrinth.