An adventurous 165 km cross country trail that follows the Royal Canal as it weaves through country lanes, villages, towns and city – can be done in sections over time or all at once – as you choose. Follow the story of Strokestown’s Famine Emigrants as our interactive bronze shoe sculptures creates a thought provoking experience, on this commemorative cross country walk. The trail is topped and tailed by two iconic museums – “The National Famine Museum” at Strokestown Park and “The Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship” / “ EPIC – Irish Emigration Museum” at the Dublin end.
SHOE STORIES - Daniel’s Story – Black ‘47
SHOE STORIES – Daniel’s Story – Black ‘47
My name is Daniel Tighe / Tye, I am 12 years old, in May 1847 the worst year of the Great Irish Famine, I walked this path from Strokestown to Dublin heading for a Ship and in hope of a new life in North America. Follow in the footsteps of my story through the 30 pairs of Bronze Shoes along the National Famine Way.
Soon, we reach Richmond Harbour and the busy town of Clondra with its monstrous corn mill and big flax mill buildings. Ruins of the Abbey, just like Lisonuffy Abbey destroyed and plundered by the English long since.
Three barges wait at the lock keeper’s house.
The canal is beautiful like a wide blue ribbon that runs through the country side, calmer, flatter than the Shannon with trees and fields and hedgerows alongside its gentle lapping water calming us as we walk along its leafy paths.
There are carts and coaches and crowds of people everywhere but they stare at us with little welcome in their eyes. There are fine horses and Bianconi coaches that take people to Dublin quickly. Catherine loves the horses and wants to get closer to see them.
‘They are the most beautiful animals that I have ever seen’ she says her eyes shining.
‘If I had the pennies I would pay to ride in a fine Bianconi ‘joked Mrs Reynolds, ‘instead of crippling myself walking miles along this old canal path with my poor bad knee’.
We were all tired and footsore and relieved when the bailiff told us to move on a bit along the path and stop at a field outside the town where we could lie down and take shelter and rest for the night.
Mother stretched the blankets over some ferns to make a rough shelter for us.
The Famine in Clondra
The Famine in Clondra
The village of Clondra (Cloondara) lies on the western edge of County Longford and the province of Leinster. It stands on the River Camlin, close to where it enters the River Shannon. The western terminus of the Royal Canal is here at Richmond Harbour, which opened on 26 May 1817. The canal was a great boon for the village. In 1841, Clondra had a population of 416 people, living in 82 houses. Both figures were double what they had been ten years earlier. Many emigrants from County Roscommon embarked here and travelled to Dublin.
The largest business in Clondra during the 19th century (apart from the canal itself) was the mill/distillery run by the Fleming family of Richmond House, across the bridge from the harbour. William Fleming (c. 1791-1881) ran a very successful distillery, which in the mid-1830s produced about 70,000 gallons (c.320,000 litres), of whiskey annually and employed more than 70 people. By the Famine years, it had been converted into a corn mill. It continued to operate until the early 20th century.
Clondra is in Killashee parish and it, and Tarmonbarry and its hinterland, on the Roscommon side of the Shannon, were in Longford Poor Law Union. Amongst the best indicators of the severity of the Famine in an area are the statistics relating to the soup kitchens, which operated in electoral divisions for several months in 1847, under the aegis of the poor law unions. The figures for Tarmonbarry Electoral Division indicate great distress there. The highest number of people to receive soup on any one day in the period from 27 May to 12 September 1847 was 2,803 or 65% of a population of 4, 279, as recorded in the 1841 census. This was the highest of any of the 18 divisions in Longford Union for which there are figures (there are none in one case). At its closure, the kitchen was serving 37% of the population.