An international commemoration of the Great Irish Famine takes place today in Australia, following previous similar events in the US, Canada and Britain.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan, is in Sydney representing the State at for the event.

He will meet descendants of orphan girls who travelled from workhouses in Ireland between 1848 and 1850 for a better life in to Australia

Mr Deenihan is also meeting Irish and Australians involved in Irish culture and affairs before the commemoration at Hyde Park Barracks. 

He has also visited Sydney University, the only in the Southern Hemisphere where Irish studies are a core part of a university degree, part-funded with a grant from his department. 

“My visit to Sydney marks not only the International Commemoration of the Great Irish Famine, but also celebrates the tremendous impact that Irish emigrants have made to their adopted homelands," the minister said.

"I am therefore delighted that the Irish language, which so many emigrants sadly lost when they left Ireland behind, is alive here in Sydney.

"It is wonderful to hear that the Irish language and the study of Celtic Civilisation is popular with students and I earnestly hope it will continue to be,” he added.

Previous international Great Irish Famine commemorations have been held in Canada, New York, Liverpool and Boston.