The famine, of course, is woven into all of Irish history. Debated, mourned and remembered- it impacted the country like very little else could have. During the 'Great Hunger' (from 1845-1852), starvation, disease and emigration to flee the despair resulted in Ireland's population dropping by almost 25%- it has never fully recovered. The result would be to spread the Irish across the globe (including to Australia), ensuring Irish influence in other nations. It would be a historical memory for Irish nationalists- a reminder of what they had suffered while the British turned their backs and let them die. It would lead to whisperings, and later cries of the word 'genocide'... And it is memorialised in locations all through the country- perhaps the most significant event in Irish history, with the furthest reaching consequences.
The famine ship near Westport illustrates the despair, death and emigration. The statue is a boat, for emigration and fleeing to the Americas or Australia was a way to leave behind the horror and seek hope, starting again, leaving behind villages that no longer existed and people that were starving to death. It is this that is shown when you near the memorial. What appears to be wire or rigging encircling it is actually made up of skeletal figures, one pointing forward, others clutching the ship, or making up parts of the structure.
It is a very clear comment on a very dark moment.