Bringing Places to Life

Poster Irish Famine & Cottier Cabins

Irish Famine and Cottier Cabins Exhibition

The "Irish Famine and Cottier Cabins" virtual exhibition brings together leading experts who explore the lives of some of Ireland's poorest and most vulnerable people during the Great Hunger in the 1840s and the cottier cabins (third and fourth class housing) they inhabited on a North/South basis.

In this series of videos, discover how the cabins' occupants endured the Famine as reflected in their vernacular architecture and sparse furnishings, archaeological remains, folk memory, and visual and literary arts. Learn more about the archaeological excavations and archival records of famine era evictions and emigration from the Strokestown Park Estate, home of the National Famine Museum.

I) the Single Room Cabin from Altahoney townland in the Sperrin Mountains in the Ulster American Folk Park,

II) the Meenagarragh’s Cottier’s House in the Ulster Folk Park

III) An Bothán (recreation of a famine mud cabin) erected on the University College Cork campus, and

IV) the Cabin of the Poor in the Irish Agricultural Museum and Famine Exhibition at Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens, Co. Wexford,  an Irish Heritage Trust property.

The Irish Famine and Cottier Cabins exhibition is hosted by the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, the Irish Agricultural Museum at Johnstown Castle, Estate & Gardens, and the Irish Heritage Trust. It is supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the 2020 Cooperation with Northern Ireland Funding Scheme.

Learn more and watch the videos here.


Launch of National Famine Way Passport/Guide

PRESS RELEASE

  • Printed passport, map and guide with 27 stage stamps
  • Local communities to benefit with expected €2 million economic impact
  • Trail available 365 days a year for walkers and cyclists

10th September 2020: A new interactive outdoor experience the National Famine Way, was launched today by the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park with the establishing of a unique National Famine Way Passport/Guide and OSI Trail Map.

The 14-page National Famine Way Passport/Guide highlights local historical landmarks and allows walkers and cyclists to record their progress with 27 stage stamps along the specially developed route. The Trail details the 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. A completion certificate is awarded at the end of the Trail at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.

The National Famine Way is an accredited 165km Heritage and Arts Trail from Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon through six counties to Dublin, mostly along the Royal Canal. With its captivating layers of history and culture, the Trail is designed to be accessible for families, schools, casual walkers and cyclists, through to famine and historical enthusiasts. It offers a safe, recreational option available 365 days a year in a self-guided and paced format with signposting and trailheads along the route.

The new Passport/Guide is centred around the walk of one of the original famine walkers from Strokestown Park - 12 year-old Daniel Tighe - who remarkably survived the horrific journey to Quebec, Canada on one of the worst famine ships. Award-winning author Marita Conlon-McKenna has written vignettes reimagining Daniel’s journey in 1847 and connected to over thirty pairs of bronze children’s shoes interspersed along the route.

The National Famine Way is an integrated County collaboration between the National Famine Museum, Waterways Ireland and County Councils along the route. The Trail is topped and tailed by iconic museums – The National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum / Jeannie Johnston Replica Ship. The Passport/Guide explains the historical and cultural landmarks, broken down into distinct sections from 1km to 15km, through Roscommon, Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Fingal, ending in Dublin City Centre.

Describing what walkers and families are likely to experience, John O’Driscoll, General Manager of the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park said: “We look forward to welcoming official walkers starting from the National Famine Museum where they can get a real understanding of the Famine. We are delighted that we are now offering a Passport/Guide and OSI Trail Map to accompany this thought-provoking Trail where the #Missing1490 embarked on their journey. Walkers/cyclists are also given a ship ticket and information on one family whose footsteps they will follow, making the Trail especially evocative. As the Trail is over 165km long we envisage that many walkers and cyclists will wish to complete sections of the trail over time. The official Passport/Guide includes a 10% discount to the entrance price of the National Famine Museum as well as the Jeanie Johnston Replica Famine Ship/ EPIC The Irish Emigration and other Museums along the route”. *

Acknowledging the commitment and support of numerous partners in the project, Anne O’Donoghue, CEO of the Irish Heritage Trust, which cares for Strokestown Park and the National Famine Museum, said: “We would like to thank Roscommon County Council for their generous support and vision for this significant project which is designed to make history and heritage accessible in an engaging way.  In addition, the commitment over the last ten years of Waterways Ireland in creating the Royal Canal Greenway by investing over €5 million, means that the National Famine Way is now available to everyone. This Heritage Trail not only links two significant Irish Museums but also makes the connection between Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Ireland’s Ancient East. In addition to the health, historical, cultural and arts impact, the Trail also has the potential to open up rural Ireland and offer an economic boost to local communities with cycling hire, cafés, bars, shops and accommodation all benefiting with an expected economic impact of over €2 million spent along the route.”

Commenting on the historical and cultural importance of the initiative, Caroilin Callery, of the Irish Heritage Trust and National Famine Museum added, “As walkers and cyclists experience the natural beauty of the National Famine Way Heritage Trail, the Passport/Guide and OSI Map incentivises them to explore lesser-known sections by slowly unfolding the rich local history wrapped in the journey of famine emigrants. They will also be reminded of our history, through a mix of evocative storytelling, song, art installations and cultural centres along the route. The Passport/Guide brings the historical journey of the 1,490 Famine emigrants alive by allowing them to follow in their footsteps 173 years later.

To book your participation along the route, or for more information please go here:

*Although walkers and cyclists can avail of the Trail for free, the passport is on sale for €10 and available online and from the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park.  In addition to the passport stamping, guide and map it also offers discounted access to Strokestown Park House, Croke Park Museum, the Jeannie Johnson Famine Ship and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.

The National Famine Way Passport/Guide and OSI Map is an integrated inter County collaboration between Waterways Ireland and county councils along the route: Roscommon, Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Fingal and Dublin. It has been developed by Strokestown Park House, the National Famine Museum, and the Irish Heritage Trust in partnership with Waterways Ireland and EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. This project was part funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development under the Outdoor Recreation improvement scheme

#Missing1490

In May of 1847, the worst year of the Famine, 1,490 people from Strokestown in Co. Roscommon walked 165kms from Strokestown to Dublin and were then transported to Liverpool.  They then boarded some of the worst “coffin ships” which took them on a nightmare journey to Quebec in Canada – only half of those who set-off arrived in Quebec.

The group of walkers, who subsequently became known as the “Missing 1,490”, were tenants of the local landlord Major Denis Mahon who offered them the grim choice of emigration (through “assisted passage”) or starvation on their blighted potato patch farms or a place in the terrifying local workhouse. The story of the #Missing1490 has led to a research programme by the University of Toronto to uncover the life stories the ‘#Missing 1490’ which is slowly following family threads in America and Canada.

Strokestown Park and the National Famine Museum

Archival documents discovered in Strokestown Park House reveal that 1,490 men women and children were “walked” under the close surveillance of the Mahon estate bailiff John Robinson along the canal towpaths, from Strokestown to the Quays in Dublin and then on to Liverpool where they boarded four different ships for the perilous voyage to Quebec.  Since 2015, Strokestown Park House & The National Famine Museum has been managed by the Irish Heritage Trust, an independent not-for-profit organisation. 

Take the Trail


EXHIBITION OF POLISH HERO OF IRISH FAMINE AT IRISH HERITAGE TRUST PROPERTIES

The Irish Heritage Trust is to host the historical exhibition "A Forgotten Polish Hero of the Great Irish Famine: Paul Strzelecki’s Struggle to Save Thousands" at its properties during the summer and autumn 2020.  This exhibition by the Polish Embassy in Dublin explores the fascinating life and achievements of one of the great humanitarians of the 19th century, whose contributions to Irish Famine relief have yet to be widely known and commemorated.  The tour of the exhibition begins at the National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park, Roscommon from 1st July to 4th August.  

“The Irish Heritage Trust is delighted to display this exhibition at the National Famine Museum and at our other historic properties in the summer and autumn; Fota House & Gardens, Cork  (15th August – 4th October) and Johnstown Castle, Estate, Museum & Gardens, Wexford, (17th October – 29th November),” said Dr. Emma O’Toole, Collections & Interpretation Manager at the Irish Heritage Trust. The exhibition is in English and entrance is included in the entrance fee to the property.

Count Paul (Paweł) Strzelecki, a world-renowned Polish explorer and scientist, volunteered to work in Ireland to combat raging Famine over a three-year period (1847-49) as the main agent of the British Relief Association (B.R.A). Despite suffering from the effects of typhoid fever he contracted in Ireland, Strzelecki dedicated himself tirelessly to hunger relief. His commitment was widely recognized and praised by his contemporaries, and this exhibition endeavours to bring his achievements and legacy back into the public eye.

The content of the exhibition was commissioned by the Polish Embassy from leading experts in the field – Prof. Peter Gray (Queen’s University Belfast) and Assoc. Prof. Emily Mark-FitzGerald (University College Dublin) – and includes several rarely seen images of Famine relief and charity, drawn from collections of major museums and libraries in Ireland, Britain, Australia and the United States.

In order to alleviate the critical situation of famished Irish families and especially children, Strzelecki developed a visionary and exceptionally effective mode of assistance: feeding starving children directly through the schools. He extended daily food rations to schoolchildren across the most famine-stricken western part of Ireland, while also distributing clothing and promoting basic hygiene. At its peak in 1848, around 200,000 children from all denominations were being fed through the efforts of the B.R.A., many of whom would have otherwise perished from hunger and disease.

For information on other venues and dates visit www.strzelecki.ie.

 


Three people looking up at columns in hall at Fota House

Fota House Receives Museum Standards Award

FOTA HOUSE RECOGNISED FOR HIGH STANDARDS IN MUSEUM MANAGEMENT WITH TOP NATIONAL AWARD FROM THE HERITAGE COUNCIL OF IRELAND

Tuesday 30th June 2020: On the eve of re-opening Fota House, Cork on 1st July, the Irish Heritage Trust is pleased to announce that Fota House has been awarded full Museum Re-Accreditation in recognition of its high standards in museum management, collections care, education and visitor services. This is awarded by the Heritage Council of Ireland under its Museum Standards Programme for Ireland (MSPI).

Fota House is one of five Irish Museums to be re-accredited with the top award of Full Accreditation this year which requires complying with 34 standards under the MSPI. Four more Irish Museums will be awarded Full Accreditation. Fota House was awarded Full Museum Accreditation status in 2016 and has undergone a comprehensive assessment over the last year in order to maintain this status.

In receiving full Re-Accreditation, Fota House joins the distinguished list of sites and historic properties with full Museum Standards including Farmleigh House, (Dublin) Castletown House (Kildare), Muckross House (Killarney), Chester Beatty Library & National Gallery of Ireland (Dublin).

The MSPI was established by the Heritage Council of Ireland in 2006 to benchmark and promote professional standards in the care of collections and to recognise the achievement of those standards through the Irish museum sector. The programme recognises excellence in caring for collections, museum management, education, exhibition and visitor services

Speaking about the MSPI Re-Accreditation in advance of the re-opening of Fota House, Anne O’Donoghue, CEO of the Irish Heritage Trust, which owns and cares for the property, commented:

“We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to re-open the house in a safe manner for all to enjoy once again. The recent news of Museum status from the Heritage Council is a very welcome boost for our team who have worked very hard on the detailed process to attain and maintain this prestigious award. We are delighted that Fota House will offer a new art tour that will highlight our unique art collection, and showcase new acquisitions and temporary exhibitions.”

Speaking about the Fota collection and the importance of this Museum Standards Award, the Irish Heritage Trust’s Collections and Interpretation Manager, Dr Emma O’Toole said:

“Achieving full Re-Accreditation under The Heritage Council of Ireland’s Museum Standards Programme marks a significant milestone for Fota House. It is the culmination of years of work by the Irish Heritage Trust team, by improving our visitor experience through exhibitions, new acquisitions, and conservation projects. Fota House and its collection are of local and national importance, and it is through participating in the MSPI that we have enhanced our ability to preserve and protect these collections for future generations”.

Commenting on the Re-Accreditation achievement, the MSPI Assessor stated: “It is very encouraging to see ongoing progress as the Irish Heritage Trust continues to apply and invest in standards underpinning the MSPI programme. Particularly evident is a strong emphasis on the quality of visitor experience, and a high standard in volunteer management, both of which are contributing greatly to the sustainability of Fota House, with a growing number and range of volunteers…These strengths are supported by a core of excellent collections management and care, underpinning the richness of the offer at Fota House. It is particularly heartening to hear about new acquisitions relating to the history of Fota House, adding depth to the authenticity of the interpretation”.

For more details about Fota House’s re-opening, please click here: https://fotahouse.com/house-reopening/


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 National Heritage Week in August  Pearl gave a talk to members and volunteers, taking them through her discoveries and the different conservation stages involved.

Watch a short clip of the restoration taking place by clicking here 


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.


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.


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.