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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.

As we near Tarmonbarry an old man begins to shout, for at the side of the ditch are three poor starved bodies left there these past weeks to rot. A man and a woman and a little girl by the look of them! They are in filthy rags and the smell is fierce.

‘No one to bury them, poor things,’ Mother said telling us to shut our eyes and to keep walking. But I still looked for I am twelve and have seen dead bodies before. I try not to think what might have happened to them and how they came to such a terrible end.

We cross the bridge over the wide River Shannon, the blue water sparkling in the sunshine as the crowds of us kept walking.

‘I wish that we could stop and swim or wade in the river,’ sighed nine year old Catherine staring down into the clear water.

‘Hush’ scolded mother ‘Don’t let Mr Robinson hear you say such a thing.’

A few barges and boats passed us by so close that I could have jumped up on their narrow deck. One had coal, and two had barley, and we watched as the sturdy horses pull their heavy loads along the tow path.

I have never seen the River before, never been this far from home. I am somewhat mesmerised by the glistening water and fearful crossing this border, pushed on and carried by the crowd.

The Famine in Tarmonbarry

Caroilin Callery (Director, National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park House and Irish Heritage Trust) on Famine in Tarmonbarry as reported in Freeman’s Journal in May 1847: