The “Procession of the Souls” Famine Memorial wins 2 National Awards

Posted in Connect on December 23, 2016.


The Procession of the Souls is a memorial in Swinford, County Mayo, dedicated to the Great Famine. It is a collaboration between Travis Price Architects of Washington D.C. and the Enterprise & Investment Unit of Mayo County Council, under the Directorship of Joanne Grehan. The memorial is one of 24 projects forming the global Spirit of Place program. It was built by architectural students over nine days in the summer of 2015.

The intention of the memorial is to provide a sacred place to remember the unknown victims of this tumultuous period in Irish history. The memorial also celebrates the unsung heroes: the local individuals, such as Dr. Michael Henry, a local doctor of the time whose compassionate dedication to his patients played a significant role in assisting the town and its people to overcome the great tragedy of the Famine. “The Procession of the Souls” is also dedicated to other figures who played an important role in helping North and East Mayo communities recover in the aftermath of the Famine.

The staggered stone path and walls of “The Procession of the Souls” exemplify the struggle through a tragic and turbulent passage. At the culmination of the processional is a light-filled structure of illuminating ascension and hope overlooking the graveyard and Dr. Henry’s burial site. A table for annual Masses is stationed under a steel and etched-glass roof. During the design process, students developed metaphoric designs based upon the specific culture and mythology of each place, expressed in a modern idiom, in a variety of media.

The students created their own poetic and sculptural interpretations, and then further refined these into detailed architectural models: both physical and in electronic media, as well as in working construction drawings. For the intensive construction phase, the CUA students were joined by local artisans, students, and residents.

The memorial won two prestigious yearly design awards in America;

  1. National AIA Faith and Form IFFRA award  2016
  2. Washington DC American Institute Chapter Design Award 2015

In speaking of the AIA award, Travis stated “I am humbled, honored and elated. After building 24 projects globally, Spirit of Place is not only pleased to receive our 6th national AIA design award for the Procession of the Souls.  Indeed this project in itself is a procession of the human story in architecture at the forefront of architectural education, cultural tourism, while most importantly  lifting the hearts and souls of those we design for and with around the globe.  Swinford and all of the Irish projects have elevated the modern world to architecture that speaks to the enduring human spirit. Indeed the Spirit of Mayo is heard round the world! ”

In 2017 Procession of the Souls will also feature in a major exhibition at the US National Building Museum in Washington DC, and at the National AIA convention (80,000 members), the memorial will be displayed and honored.

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