Strokestown

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.

 


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.”

 


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