THE path has been occasionally rocky, strewn with both major and minor obstacles, but the journey is over.

It has taken Glasgow considerably more than a century to commemorate victims of the famines in Ireland and Highlands – events that swelled the population of the city and gave it much of its modern culture and meaning – but now that journey is over. After four years of discussions in a working group, a famine memorial is to be placed near the People’s Palace in Glasgow Green.

“This is happening,” said Councillor Matt Kerr, who has helped form and usher the plans through a group of organisations that included the Orange Order, the Scots Ulster Association, the Irish Heritage Foundation, the Gaelic League, the Scottish Refugee Council and the Irish Consulate.

Groundworks will begin in the next few weeks with the memorial – a pathway with a garden and reflective statements – being completed by the summer.

Glasgow City Council has put up £50,000 in cash for the memorial and support in the form of labour to create it.

Its shape was moulded after plans for the memorial were displayed around the city, mostly in libraries, and people were asked for their input. Designers have interpreted that work and the public’s comments to create the final proposal, which was backed by the working group.

The emerging design was consistently environmental – creating a place for contemplation and reflection – rather than a solid monument.

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The core of the design is a pathway, with other elements including representations of ruined croft buildings and boats, with native plants and stone. It is likely there will also be text inlaid into some of the stone in various languages.

The design aims to reflect the journey taken by people who were affected by the famine both in the Highlands and Islands and in Ireland, and their subsequent arrival to Glasgow. The famine in Ireland, An Gorta Mor, is thought to have killed more than one million people and sparked the migration of a further million after a blight struck potatoes between 1845-52. The famine in the Scottish Highlands, roughly from 1846 to 1856, claimed many fewer lives but also led to a significant migration.

The memorial seeks to create a space to contemplate the tragedies and their effects on the people and the communities at either end of that journey.

The path will include a mixture of materials that refer to different stages of the journey. At the beginning it will be wide and constructed from smooth materials such as fine gravel.

It will then starts to change to rougher gravel while getting narrower with small boulders on the edges. The rough gravel will start to give way to uneven cobble paving, with vegetation creeping on to the path.

The boulders on the sides of the path will become larger and some form obstacles, evoking the challenges and hardships of the suffering people. The surfacing will then change little by little to smoother gravel before turning to paving to reflect the arrival to Glasgow.

The low walls of a croft the visitors walk through will reflect the decision to leave homes and communities behind and start a journey to a new life. The partly ruined walls will also refer to the destitution of the people.

One half of a wooden boat will act as a seat for visitors to sit for reflection, with the other half placed further away to echo the boats taking the emigrants away. Engraved stones embedded in the path will carry poems and messages.

The planting scheme is designed to emphasise the journey. By using native species, it aims to create stronger links to the areas affected by the famine.

“We live in a city full of statues. Sadly, many people do not know who most of them are,” said Kerr. “This one is highly significant because of the impact the famines had on the population of this city.”

He praised the members of the working group. “In many ways they were not natural bedfellows,” he said of a group ranging in voices from the Orange Order to the Gaelic League.

He added: “We always sought consensus and we achieved it. We never had to go to a vote. We discussed things, hammered issues out, but there was never a falling out. Everyone wanted to see it happen, wanted to see it work.”

Kerr, who represents Craigton for Labour, also praised the work and support of Green and SNP councillors But as one journey ends, another begins. Kerr is keen to develop the theme.

“For me, a real memorial has to have an educational side to it. It has to have something to engage people, particularly the young,” he said.

“I like to think that over the years we have learned something about how to welcome people. We discussed this in the group. We can’t kid ourselves on. People arrived here with nothing and life was very difficult for them.”

He added: “It has taken generations to move through that. I like to think that experience shaped Glasgow in terms of how it is now. I think Glasgow leads the way in the UK as to how we welcome refugees. It was not all rosy at the beginning but we learned our lessons.”

These lessons will now be passed on in a sort of mobile museum. Educational boxes on the tragedies will be moved around the city to schools and organisations.