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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

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.

A mile or so further the land grows wild as we come to Cloonshanagh Bog, where for as far as the eye can see, for miles, the white puffs of bog cotton blow like fluffy clouds and the lazy blue dragon flies hover over the muddy bog pools. In the distance I can see a scrawny old man and a boy in rags, picking turf and loading it up onto a rickety hand cart.

I always loved going up on the bog with father to cut turf, and drying it and then bringing it home and piling it high by the side of the cottage. It would fuel our fire all winter long and keep us warm. But now with father gone I will never cut turf again with him or spend a day up in the wild beauty of the bog lands.

Now the bogs are covered in hovels where no one ever had to live before so desperate are the times and the same on my beloved Sliabh Ban by Lisonuffy, people forced up the side of the mountain mostly barren and not fit to provide for a family.

Bravely I grab a fistful of bog and add it to the clay in my pocket. It makes me feel closer to my Da.

Cathal Póirtéir in Cloonshanagh Bog on the landscapes of Famine Ireland and potato blight.

Cathal Póirtéir in Cloonshanagh Bog on the landscapes of Famine Ireland and potato blight. He recites three verses in Gaelic from Na Fataí Bána (The White Potatoes) by Peatsaí Ó Callanáin:

 Ba iad ár gceáirde iad ó am ár gelaibháin
Ach is é mo dhíobháil iad imeacht uainn
Ba mhaith an chuideacht iad is an t-údar rince
Biodh spóirt is siamsa againn in aice leo.

Sin é an dáta is níl fáth gan ábhar
A mbeidh cuimhne is trácht air i gcaitheamh an tsaoil
Mar níor tháinig uireasa dá mhéad a cháiliocht
Is mó na gantann in easpa an bhídh.

 Céard a cheannós bráithlín don fhear a sinfear
Tobac ná píopaí ná cónra chláir
Ach Ard Rí Fhlaithúnais le cabhair is slí ‘gainn
Agus ar ndóigh b’aoibhinn dhúinn dhá bhfaigheadh muid bás.


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