The Irish Famine Summer School
Irish Famine Summer School at Strokestown Park
26 – 30 May 2021
The Irish Famine Summer School is an annual international conference allowing delegates to engage with some of the world’s leading interdisciplinary experts in the Irish Famine. By gathering some of the world’s leading historic Famine scholars, it benefits the local communities and brings the town of Strokestown to life. The Summer School is run in association with our academic partners Quinnipiac University, Connecticut, home of Ireland’s Great Hunger Institute and alternates each year between Quinnipiac and Strokestown Park.
The theme of the 2021 Irish Famine Summer School at the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park House will be ‘Landlords and Tenants, the good, the bad and the ugly’. The summer school will explore the impact of Great Hunger in the mid-nineteenth-century on landlords and tenants and all classes in between on the Irish social spectrum.
One of the most notorious landlords during the Great Hunger was Major Denis Mahon, who evicted many of his tenants from his estate at Strokestown Park, County Roscommon, and assisted 1,490 of them to emigrate in May 1847. They left Ireland and then Liverpool on some of the most notorious of the “coffin ships”, including the Virginius and the Naomi: almost half of them perished at sea or in the fever sheds of Quebec. Denis Mahon was assassinated in November 1847. Yet other Irish landlords, such as Stephen De Vere from Curragh Chase, County Limerick, and Stepney St. George from Castle Headford, County Galway, risked and gave their lives attempting to alleviate the suffering of their tenants and to help them escape from famine afflicted Ireland.
Some of the highlights of the latest Famine Summer School at Strokestown Park included the “Roscommon Connects: Community Building Through Shared Storytelling” showcase by new immigrants to Ireland living in Ballaghadereen; the launch of the Great Famine Voices Roadshow website featuring Irish-Canadians and Irish-Americans sharing their family memories and stories of coming from Ireland to North America; and especially singer-songwriter Declan O’Rourke in conversation with Professor Christine Kinealy when he performed songs from his award-winning album Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine in the library in Strokestown Park House. It was a poignant occasion to hear Declan sing about the Great Hunger in the home of the National Famine Museum. Click here for the programme.
Strokestown Park and the Irish Heritage Trust was supported by the Creative Ireland Programme, an all-of-Government five-year initiative, from 2017 to 2022, which places creativity at the centre of public policy. Further information from creative.ireland.ie and Ireland.ie.
The Famine Summer School was supported by the 2018 Festivals and Summer Schools Scheme, Department of Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht.