Ireland’s Newest Heritage Trail Launched
Descendants of the #Missing1490 are being traced
May 2019: A group of walkers including international Famine experts arrived 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 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 / Jeanie 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. She also thanked Dublin City Council for supporting the launch of the National Famine Way at the Custom House Quay Festival.
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.
The launch of the National Famine Way at the Custom House Quay Festival was supported by Dublin City Council.