Strokestown

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.”

 


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