A Brief History

Strokestown Park, a place of great beauty and a partaker in a national tragedy. Visit the National Famine Museum to uncover the story and learn about the greatest national disaster in Ireland’s history.

Strokestown Park, in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands, County Roscommon, is a unique property that includes the National Famine Museum, a beautiful Palladian house, stunning gardens and Regional Museum housing a Decade of Centenaries exhibition.

Owned by the Pakenham Mahon family for over 300 years, this evocative estate is a time capsule and a window into life in a big house and estate during some of our most tumultuous times, through the lives and experiences of the people who lived and worked here.

The story of the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s has particular resonance as Strokestown. Tenants on the estate were hugely impacted, many emigrated or died, and a previous owner of the house and local landlord, Major Denis Mahon was assassinated in November 1847 at the height of the famine. It is fitting that the National Famine Museum was established at Strokestown Park in 1994 using the unique Archive of original documents which came to light during the restoration of the House.  

Public access to Strokestown Park has been sustained almost entirely by private philanthropy for over 35 years by Mr Jim Callery and the Westward Group.  In 2017, Jim Callery’s long-term commitment to Strokestown Park was recognised with the Award of the prestigious EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award in the category “Dedicated Service to Heritage”. 

Since 2015, The Irish Heritage Trust, an independent not-for-profit organisation, has been working with Strokestown Park and the Westward Group to help secure the future of this special place in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and to bring benefits to the local community. The Trust is caring for the property and creating a sustainable operation for future generations.

We are delighted that the new, state-of-the-art National Famine Museum will open at Strokestown Park in 2022. Funded by Fáilte Ireland and Westward Holdings Ltd, in partnership with the Irish Heritage Trust, the Museum will showcase material from the Archive and will interpret the story of the Great Irish Famine in Ireland for a whole new generation of visitors and researchers.  The Irish Heritage Trust is responsible for delivering this project, which will deliver a distinctive and engaging experience at the National Famine Museum, while offering a sustainable heritage visitor experience for future generations to enjoy.

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.
Strokestown House outline