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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.

I was glad to leave the busy town and get back on the canal path. John and I watch two butterflies flutter in the sunlight and overhead high in the leafy trees could hear a pair of wood pigeons who have somehow managed to survive and make a nest.

Da showed me how to use a sling and stone to try and catch a fat woodpigeon in the woods for Mam to put in the pot, but soon near us all the woodpigeons had gone

We slow down as we pass a graveyard in Kilpatrick, for two men are there with shovels busy burying the dead. They have a cart piled high with bodies and Uncle William said they needed to bury them quickly in the earth and have a trap coffin to use. ‘A what ?’ I said. ‘ Hush Daniel, the little ones. It’s a coffin with a hinged bottom which opens to drop the poor soul into the grave and can be used again and again. More dignity than what those in the ditches in Tarmonbarry got.’ I appreciate the way Uncle William treats me like a grown up.

Likely many had died of fever like poor Father had. It was a terrible sight for most of the dead had little clothes and only a blanket flung over them. Mam and the women began to cry. I put my arms around Catherine for she looks like a little white ghost.

Kilpatrick Bridge

 

Kilpatrick is it site of a cholera graveyard dating from 1832, although an earlier graveyard many have existed on the site. Cholera first appeared in Ireland in March 1832, having spread from England and Scotland into the ports of Belfast and Dublin before making its way rapidly across the country. It struck fear into the heart of society as it cause was unknown and its effects deadly – both rich and poor were often struck down within 12 hours of contracting the disease. Some communities attempted to prevent cholera from entering their communities by disrupting travel, including the cutting canal banks to prevent the passage of boats as was reported on the Grand Canal outside Tullamore in June 1832. Individuals who attended wakes were vulnerable to the contagion. The local board of health in Mullingar faced resistance when attempting to introduce emergency burial regulations in September 1832 and there were calls for protective escorts for the cholera dead as burials in regular graveyards proved controversial. It was also reported to government that the building selected as a temporary cholera hospital in Mullingar by the Board of Heath was unsuitable and that the County Infirmary be used instead. Cholera struck again in April 1849, the worst of the Famine years in Mullingar, as the overcrowded town was again hit by a cholera outbreak, contributing to more deaths in 1849 than in previous years. Though not directly caused by famine conditions, the disease hit the poor, unsanitary and overcrowded area of Cabbage Street and it’s weakened inhabitants hardest. It is more than likely that victims of this later epidemic were also buried at Kilpatrick.

 

Amenities

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