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 existing National 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 €3.76million 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 million. 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”.
Welcoming the investment, Anne O’Donoghue, CEO of the 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.”
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.”