The Great Irish famine of the 1840′s is now regarded as the single greatest social disaster of 19th century Europe. Between 1845 and 1850, when blight devastated the potato crop, in excess of two million people – almost one-quarter of the entire population – either died or emigrated.
The Famine Museum is located in the original Stable Yards of Strokestown Park House. It was designed to commemorate the history of the famine of Ireland and in some way to balance the history of the 'Big House'.
Whereas the landlord class had the resources to leave an indelible mark on the landscape, the Irish tenants lived in poverty and nothing of a physical nature has survived to commemorate their lives. The Famine Museum uses the unique documents that were discovered in the estate office, dealing with the administration of the estate during the tenure of the Mahon family. This collection includes many haunting pleas from starving tenants on the estate and the response they received.
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The Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, Strokestown, Co. Roscommon, Ireland is twinned with Grosse Ile and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site, Grosse Ile, Quebec, Canada. Over 5,500 Irish people who emigrated during the famine of Ireland are buried in mass graves at Grosse Ile.
The Museum also has a strong educational focus and seeks to create a greater awareness of the horrors of contemporary famine by demonstrating the link between the causes of the Great Irish Famine of the 1840′s and the ongoing spectacle of famine in the developing world today. The Famine Museum was opened in 1994 by the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and she said 'More than anything else, this Famine Museum shows us that history is not about power or triumph nearly so often as it is about suffering and vulnerability'.