Featured

Investment of €5.1 million for National Famine Museum

Strokestown Park, 23rd October 2019:  Brendan Griffin T.D., Minister of State for Tourism and Sport today announced Fáilte Ireland's investment of €3.9million for the new National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park in Co. Roscommon. This is the largest investment to be made in a visitor attraction in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands over the last 10 years.

The total project cost, including funding from the owners of Strokestown Park House, Westward Holdings Ltd – in partnership with the Irish Heritage Trust – will be €5.1million.  The existing famine museum at Strokestown Park will be transformed into the new state-of-the-art National Famine Museum which will tell the complete story of the Great Famine for the first time.  The new National Famine Museum will use cutting-edge technology including projections and soundscapes to immerse visitors in the culture and day-to-day life of Ireland in the years before, during and after the Great Famine.

The museum will bring visitors on a journey through the Great Irish Famine across 11 distinct zones; from experiencing how the ascendancy rose in Ireland from 1620 onwards, when Catholics owned two-thirds of the land, to the early 1800s when the majority of the land was owned by landlords. While journeying through the museum, visitors will find out what a Victorian party at the ‘Big House’ was like before moving into the contrasting ‘Cottier Life’ zone, where life for a rural labourer is depicted in the pre-famine years, followed by sections dedicated to the Great Hunger, eviction and migration. Artefacts and documents from Strokestown’s extensive archive – which is home to the largest collection of material relating to the Great Famine – will be showcased throughout the new museum including the Cloonahee Petition. A new visitor centre and café will also be developed at Strokestown Park.

The Fáilte Ireland investment of €3.9million in the National Famine Museum comes under its Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects 2016-2020. The total project cost, including funding from the owners of Strokestown Park House, Westward Holdings Ltd – in partnership with the Irish Heritage Trust – will be €5.1million. This is one of 47 large capital projects Fáilte Ireland is supporting across the country – all of which are designed to deliver new and significantly enhanced experiences. According to Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Product Development, Orla Carroll, the redeveloped museum “is expected to bring 50,000 more visitors and €13.2million in additional revenue to the region over the next five years”.

During his visit to Strokestown Park, Minister of State Brendan Griffin, said:
“For the first time, Ireland will have a museum dedicated to telling the local, regional and national story of the Great Famine and the immense and devastating impact it had on Ireland. This is not only an important museum for Irish citizens, it will also stand out to overseas visitors looking to immerse themselves in one of the most significant periods of our country’s history. The Government is proud to support innovative visitor experiences like this which are critical in reinforcing Ireland’s reputation as a top-class visitor destination and, in turn, stimulating job creation across the country.”

(Left to right) Mary Stack of Fáilte Ireland, John O’Driscoll, General Manager Strokestown Park and the National Famine Museum, Jim Callery of Strokestown Park and Westward Holdings, Clare McGrath, Chair of the Irish Heritage Trust and Orla Carroll, Fáilte Ireland.

Welcoming the investment, Anne O’Donoghue, CEO of Irish Heritage Trust, said:
“The National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park House and the truly remarkable Strokestown Famine Archive tell many compelling stories of the Great Irish Famine and offer enormous potential for Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. The Irish Heritage Trust is delighted with this opportunity to create a distinctive and engaging experience at the National Famine Museum, while offering a sustainable heritage visitor experience for future generations to enjoy. We would like to thank Fáilte Ireland and our partners Westward Holdings Ltd, Jim Callery and Patrick Kenny for their significant investment and support which enables us to realise this world-class heritage tourist attraction of national and international importance”.

Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Product Development, Orla Carroll, added:
“Tourism in Ireland has experienced serious growth in recent years, but this growth is slowing due to a range of factors including the uncertainty caused by Brexit. This means that we cannot rest on our laurels when it comes to developing top-class visitor experiences, particularly in the context of strong competition overseas. The National Famine Museum will appeal to what our core markets are actively looking for – immersive experiences that bring to life the moving stories that have shaped Ireland’s heritage and culture. This is our largest investment in a visitor attraction in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands in the last ten years. It will be a major draw to the area and will bring significant visitor numbers and revenue to the wider region.”

 


Conservation in Action at Johnstown Castle

During July and August 2019, one of our most valued artworks, the portrait of Hamilton Knox Grogan Morgan and his family by the artist E. T. Parris, was conserved by painting conservator, Pearl O’Sullivan. This painting has resided in the castle since its completion in the 1830s and over the years, layers of dust, UV light and gaseous pollutants caused the surface of the painting to become yellowish in colour and the varnish to desaturate, which created a pattern of cracking to appear across the paint surface.

This important piece of artwork was moved from the Dining Room to the Flag Hall, where - over the course of five weeks - discoloured varnish was removed and retouched, which brought the artist’s palette back to the forefront. Visitors to the castle were able to look on and enjoy 'conservation in action' while Pearl conserved the painting by removing layers of surface dirt that had gathered on the painting since it was first created in the mid-nineteenth century.

Pearl painstakingly removed the surface damage, while simultaneously retouching areas that had deteriorated. She then re-varnished the painting using a conservation grade synthetic resin, which will protect the painting, giving it long-lasting stability for up to one hundred years. On completion of this restoration work, during Heritage Week in August  Pearl gave a talk to members and volunteers, taking them through her discoveries and the different conservation stages involved.

 


PRE-BOOK YOUR TOUR AT JOHNSTOWN CASTLE

We look forward to welcoming you to Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens, Wexford’s greatest surviving country estate, to enjoy the recently restored Gothic Revival Castle which is open for guided tours for the first time. To avoid disappointment please note that Castle tours need to be booked.  The castle tour includes the adjoining 86 metre original servants’ tunnel, believed to be the longest in the country and also opening to the public for the first time. To book, telephone 053 9184671 or click here.

An entirely new ‘3 in 1’ attraction is now open at the castle, museum and gardens. A new visitor centre is open in the castle courtyard including an extensive shop specialising in local products and a 120 seat café with outdoor terrace. No booking is required to enjoy the Ornamental Gardens and Walks or the Irish Agricultural Museum, providing a nostalgic journey through Irish farming and social history.

The Irish Heritage Trust, an independent charity, was announced in 2015 as the successful applicant to work with Teagasc, the Irish Agricultural Museum and the local community to develop a new and exciting visitor experience at Johnstown Castle which includes the famous Daniel Robertson Ornamental Gardens.

The Johnstown visitor experience also offers access to the stunning lower lake area to meander and explore, as well as new parking and entrance arrangements with ample car and coach parking. www.johnstowncastle.ie

 

 

 


Johnstown Castle on RTE Nationwide

We are delighted that RTE Nationwide aired a full programme on Johnstown Castle, Estate, Museum and Gardens on Monday 20th May showcasing the new 3in1 attraction and the history of Johnstown Castle and the Irish Agricultural Museum.  Watch here on the RTE Player.

Go to the Johnstown Castle website to book your castle tour to avoid disappointment.


National Famine Way Launched

Ireland's Newest Heritage Trail Launched 

Thursday 30th May 2019:  A group of walkers including international Famine experts arrived this evening at the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship and EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum from the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park (Roscommon), having completed the new officially accredited 165km national heritage trail - the National Famine Way.

Singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke (Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine Album) launched the National Famine Way at EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum when the Strokestown Famine walkers concluded the six-day walk commemorating the poignant ill-fated journey of 1,490 famine emigrants who walked from Strokestown Park to ships in Dublin in 1847, at the height of the Irish Famine.

In 2019, 172 years later, the Famine walkers re-enacted this journey on the new waymarked National Famine Way along rural Roscommon roads and the beautifully evocative Royal Canal through counties Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare and arriving in Dublin.

“The National Famine Way is part of an ambitious outreach programme from the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, which brings the story of the Great Famine out from behind the museum walls and aims to reconnect people with their history in an innovative way from west to east - from Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands to Ireland’s Ancient East”, said Caroilin Callery of the Irish Heritage Trust and the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, who was leading the Walk.

The National Famine Way is topped and tailed by two iconic museums – The National Famine Museum and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum / Jeannie Johnston Replica Famine Ship, adding depth and integrity to this thought-provoking trail. Approximately thirty pairs of interactive bronze 19th century children’s shoe sculptures set on plinths are interspersed along the route.

Walkers included Cathal Póirtéir (writer, broadcaster and former RTÉ Radio1 journalist,) Professor Mark McGowan (University of Toronto, Death or Canada Docudrama) and Dr. Christine Kinealy (Ireland's Great Hunger Institute at Quinnipiac University, Connecticut, USA). Children’s author Marita Conlan-McKenna (Under The Hawthorn Tree) released daily instalments of her new E-Book commissioned for the National Famine Way - inspired by the story of 12-year-old Daniel Tighe one of the 1,490 who survived the journey to Quebec in 1847 and whose descendants visited Strokestown Park in 2013.

Caroilin Callery said that the walkers were delighted with the support along the route over the past six days, including many schools and local communities. “In walking in the footsteps of our missing Strokestown 1,490, we hope to honour their legacy and spread the word as we continue to work to trace some of the descendants of those who survived this walk and emigrated to Canada and the United States. Go online to www.nationalfamineway.ie to join the search and help us find the #Missing1490,” continued Ms. Callery.

The National Famine Way is an integrated inter-County collaboration between Waterways Ireland and county councils along the route: Roscommon, Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Fingal and Dublin. It is being developed by Strokestown Park House, the National Famine Museum, and the Irish Heritage Trust in partnership with Waterways Ireland, the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology, and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.

2019 National Famine  Walk

Friday 24th May 8pm Canadian Wake, at the Percy French Hotel, Strokestown
Saturday 25th May 11am-5pm Strokestown (Roscommon) to Clondra (Longford) -20km
Sunday 26th May 9.30am-5pm Clondra (Longford) – Abbeyshrule (Longford) 32km
Monday 27th May 9:30am-5pm Abbeyshrule (Longford) – Mullingar (Westmeath) 27km
Tuesday 28th May 9:30am-5pm Mullingar (Westmeath) - Longwood (Meath) 30km
Wednesday 29th May 9:30-5pm Longwood (Meath) – Maynooth (Kildare)- 28km
Thursday 30th May 9.30 am-5pm Maynooth (Kildare)- Dublin - 27 km
Thursday 30th May 5.30pm Official Launch of the National Famine Way Trail at CHQ/EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum Irish Emigrants Museum, Custom House Quay, Dublin with a performance by singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke.

 

 

"National Famine Walk: ‘Remember your soul and your liberty’" Link to Irish Times article from May 2017 here.

 

 

 


President Higgins Visits National Famine Museum at Strokestown

We were honoured to welcome President and Sabina Higgins to the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park in early July. The President officially opened the newly refurbished National Famine Museum in 2013 (which was opened in 1994 by President Mary Robinson) and was delighted to return to enjoy the fascinating Strokestown Park Famine Archive. Containing over 55,000 documents in relation to the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s, it is a complete record of economic, social and estate history over a 300-year period which was discovered by chance by Jim Callery in 1979 and led to the establishment of the National Famine Museum.

President and Sabina Higgins then took a detailed tour of the National Famine Museum with John O'Driscoll, Strokestown Park's General Manager and Jim Callery as well as members of the Irish Heritage Trust Board. The Museum tells the story of the Famine and highlights the parallels between a tragic chapter of Irish History and contemporary global hunger, and President Higgins has spoken to this theme on many occasions.

 

President and Sabina Higgins reading documents from the Strokestown Famine Archive

11 PARNELL SQUARE - PLANNING PERMISSION GRANTED FOR NEXT CHAPTER IN DUBLIN'S LITERARY QUARTER

The Trust and its partners at No. 11 - Poetry Ireland - have undertaken to restore, revive and enhance this beautiful 250-year old building with a fascinating history which has significant historical and architectural importance.  No. 11 will become a public amenity for everyone to enjoy and a significant cultural hub that will maintain and enhance the public function of the building including a dedicated centre for poetry ‘The Poetry Ireland Centre’, and a permanent home for Seamus Heaney’s Working Poetry Library.

We are delighted that Poetry Ireland and the Irish Heritage Trust have received planning permission for our ambitious plans to restore No. 11 Parnell Square, a historic Georgian townhouse in Dublin's north inner city and open it up for public access.

No. 11 is set to become an integral part of a visionary project to fulfil Dublin City’s ambitions for a cultural cluster with high public footfall in the Parnell Square and will join the world-renowned Gate Theatre and Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, as well as the Dublin Writers Museum, the Irish Writers Centre, The James Joyce Centre and the proposed new City Library in Dublin’s de facto literary quarter.

Learn more here where you can watch journalist Olivia O'Leary, commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, comedian Dara Ó Briain, actor Aidan Gillen, poets Paula Meehan and Paul Muldoon, Marie Heaney and the people behind the restoration of No. 11 Parnell Square tell us why Ireland needs a home for poetry.


Magical Weddings in an Irish Heritage Trust Property

A wedding at Fota House and Gardens is an experience you will never forget. From a ceremony in our magnificent drawing room, to photos throughout the stunning house and gardens, why not contact our team to arrange a consultation.

Whether it’s a civil marriage or partnership, a blessing or a distinctive setting for your photographs you can share in the Fota's tradition of spectacular weddings.

Over the decades visitors and guests to Fota House have become captivated by its timeless and romantic atmosphere. The house boasts stunning Regency architecture and décor, exquisite gardens, fanfares of blossom and beautifully appointed surroundings.

Our professional wedding team will ensure you have a joyful day at Fota House Arboretum & Gardens. More information about weddings at Fota click here

 


The wall-mounted telephone at Strokestown Park

Roaring Twenties Telephone at Strokestown Park

Learn more here about the fascinating history behind Strokestown Park's Magneto battery powered wall-mounted telephone. Visitors to Strokestown will find it located in the corridor connecting the formal dining room with the galleried kitchen.

 


Jim Callery Strokestown EU Prize Cultural Heritage

JIM CALLERY OF STROKESTOWN AWARDED PRESTIGIOUS EU PRIZE FOR CULTURAL HERITAGE

Jim Callery has been awarded Europe’s top honour in the heritage field - a prestigious European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award for the “restoration and establishment of the world renowned Irish National Famine Museum & Archive which has been the largest act of private philanthropy for cultural heritage in the history of modern Ireland”.   Mr Callery's award is in the Category “Dedicated Service”. Pictured above is Mr. Callery receiving his Award from the Chairman of the Dedicated Service Jury, Álvaro Fernández-Villaverde y Silva.

Jim Callery, founder of the Irish National Famine Museum & Archive and owner of Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon, is among this year’s winners in the category dedicated service to heritage and the only winner from Ireland. Independent expert juries examined a total of 202 applications, submitted by organisations and individuals from 39 countries across Europe, and chose the winners. The 29 laureates from 18 countries are being recognised for their notable achievements in conservation, research, dedicated service, and education, training and awareness-raising.

Mr Callery  joined the other winners of the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards 2017 at a high-profile event co-hosted by EU Commissioner Navracsics and Maestro Plácido Domingo on 15 May in the historic city of Turku, Finland. The European Heritage Awards Ceremony assembled some 1,200 people, including heritage professionals, volunteers and supporters from all over Europe as well as top-level representatives from EU institutions, the host country and other Member States.

“I warmly congratulate this year’s winners and pay tribute to all those who made these exceptional achievements possible, thanks to their formidable talent, passionate commitment and great generosity. They are now among a select group of some 450 remarkable accomplishments awarded by Europa Nostra and the European Commission in the past 15 years. All our winners demonstrate that heritage is a key tool for sustainable economic development, social cohesion and a more inclusive Europe. EU leaders should seize the historic opportunity of the European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 to recognise the multiple benefits of heritage and its fundamental value in bringing countries, communities and cultures together in Europe and beyond,” stated Plácido Domingo, the renowned opera singer and President of Europa Nostra.

"I congratulate all the winners. Their achievements demonstrate once again how engaged many Europeans are in protecting and safeguarding their cultural heritage. Their projects highlight the significant role of cultural heritage in our lives and our society. Especially today, with Europe facing many big societal challenges, culture is vital in helping us to raise awareness of our common history and values and to foster tolerance, mutual understanding and social inclusion. The European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018 will be an ideal opportunity to focus on what binds us together as Europeans - our common history, culture and heritage. The European Commission will continue to support this prize and other heritage projects through our Creative Europe programme,said Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport.

Click here to see video about Mr. Callery's work at Strokestown.