Day 4 of the 2017 Famine Way walk started out drizzly in Abbeyshrule, where the walkers met pupils from Forgney National School before setting off on the 27km route to Mullingar. Along the way, the walkers stopped at Ballinacarrigy,a village that was devastated by the Great Hunger as recalled in local folklore. They also passed through the more remote parts of Westmeath along the Royal Canal, where villages in the area were particularly devastated by the Famine. In Famine & Community in Mullingar Poor Law Union, 1845-1849. Mud Huts and Fat Bullocks (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1999), Seamus O’Brien notes that up to 53% of the population in this area either died or emigrated between 1841 and 1851.
From Ballinacarrigy, the group made their way to the very picturesque Coolnahay Lockhouse 26. We’ve been adding 360° videos and images to the site. These have all been taken by Atul Nautiyal and Gary Munnelly from the ADAPT Centre while on the National Famine Way Walk. Check out the image of the Coolnahay Lock below. Drag the image along with your mouse to view from all angles, or click on the small square in the lower-right to go full-screen.
Marita Conlon-McKenna has added some of her thoughts about the Canadian Wake Event last Friday in Strokestown. The event was held to say farewell and to mark, as in olden days, the leaving of a group emigrants – The National Famine Way Walkers who would begin their journey on Saturday 27th May. Read Marita’s observations on the event here.
After arriving in Mullingar at the end of today’s 27km trek, the walkers took the time to visit Mullingar’s Workhouse and Famine Graveyard.
Mullingar was badly hit during the Great Irish Famine. The Mullingar Workhouse was opened in December in 1842 and was able to hold 900 people. However with the arrival of the Great Famine its numbers swelled as the masses of hungry, starving and sick all sought refuge there. Sleeping galleries had to be constructed to try and cope with the overcrowding. With the outbreak of fever in the town and district the board had to open a 60 bed Fever Hospital on the north side of the workhouse. The conditions would have been terrible but for those that were too weak and sick and had nowhere else to go the workhouse was perhaps the last resort.
Marita Conlon-McKenna on NationalFamineWay.ie
Tomorrow, the walkers leave Mullingar at 9.30am. They’ll be stopping off at Mc Neads Bridge (Mary Lynch’s Pub), Thomastown Depot and Hill O Down (Moran’s) before their expected arrival in Longwood at 5pm. It’s the longest distance to be covered in one day on the walk, clocking in at 30km.