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Remember, Re-member

IN IRELAND, THE PLACE always comes with a name, and with the name a story. One such place is Teampall Dumhach Mhór, or “Church of the great sandbank,” a sandy mound held together by an admixture of rocks and human bones. The rocks were first stacked there around 650 A.D., by Saint Colman, as a small church out on County Mayo’s west coast. The bones were added later, during the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s. Today, the mound sits on a strand, the land having been eroded by countless tides. Though its mass and shape change constantly, with rocks sliding, sand shifting, and new bones revealing themselves, it managed to resist serious erosion until this winter, when Atlantic storms washed much of its story out to sea.

Teampall Dumhach Mhór is a mass famine grave. Its prominence, however, distinguishes it from most graves left by the “great hunger”—anonymous plots among the fields and roadsides,

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