Over 1,500 people took part in the National Famine Commemoration in Drogheda, Co Louth, this afternoon.
The Taoiseach said that part of the legacy of the famine is that Ireland has become a leading global advocate in the fight against hunger.
The ceremony was held in Drogheda this year because it was the second largest port of departure for emigrants during the famine.
Among those in attendance were Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, as well as ministers, Jimmy Dennihan, Francis Fitzgerald, Richard Bruton, Dinny McGinley and Fergus O'Dowd.
The chief justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham also attended.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny inspected a military guard of honour when he arrived.
Music was provided by harpist Michael O'Neill and the St Peter's Male Voice choir.
Members of the Little Duke Theatre in Drogheda performed a special dance.
They also displayed emblems of the famine including a potato, a soup kitchen ration card, a boat ticket to Liverpool and a small section of a thatched roof.
Prayers were led by clerics from seven religions followed by a humanist reflection.
In his speech, Mr Kenny said that for Irish people nowadays food security and humanitarian aid are not just political matters.
He said we make them our personal business because they run so deep in the Irish heart.
He said it is that generational memory that supports Irish Aid and all aid agencies to bring not just food, but hope, self-reliance and dignity across the developing world.
In addition to addressing the immediate needs of those who are victims of natural and man-made disasters, Ireland is also working to address the route cause of hunger and has become a leading global advocate in the fight against hunger.
A minute's silence was observed; the last post was sounded, followed by the national anthem.