Ireland’s official Famine Heritage Trail is an adventurous 165 km cross country pilgrim walk layered with history, art and culture. It weaves through country lanes, villages, towns and Dublin city mostly along the banks of the Royal Canal. It can be done in sections or all at once – as you choose. Follow the story of Strokestown’s Famine Emigrants whose journey is marked by bronze shoe sculptures along the route. The trail is topped and tailed by iconic museums – “The National Famine Museum” at Strokestown Park in Co Roscommon and “The Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship” and “ EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum” at the Dublin end.
Download our App now to hear little twelve year old Daniel Tighe tell his story from Black ‘47 and also learn all the interesting local history around you in this area. Better still why not become an Official Walker with our Passport Guide, Ship Ticket and Certificate of completion. Learn more at www.nationalfamineway.ie
THE STORY OF THE SHOES
The children’s bound shoes that are cast in bronze along the National Famine Way were discovered by a local farmer, in the roof of a ruined nineteenth-century cottage. He donated them to the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park. We know nothing of the child they belonged to, but local folklore holds, that such offerings were made to invoke good luck. These evocative shoes symbolise the hopeful journey that our 1,490 emigrants embarked on, especially taking in the fact that two thirds of them were children. The binding evokes the difficulties they encountered and the eternal bind, to the place they were leaving.
TIGHE / TYE FAMILY STORY
At the height of the Great Famine in 1847, Mary Tighe was left a widow with five children to feed. In a desperate attempt to save her family, she availed of the ‘Assisted Emigration Scheme’ offered by Major Denis Mahon in Strokestown. She succeeded in her mission to save her family, but paid a high price. Mary Tighe, her brother, and three of her children, lost their lives on board the Ship Naomi that sailed from Liverpool to Quebec.
Daniel, aged twelve and his nine-year-old sister, Catherine were the only family members who survived the transatlantic voyage on the Naomi. Daniel himself recounted the horror of watching the bodies of his mother and brothers being thrown overboard and buried at sea.
Taken into the care of the Coulomb family in Lotbinière, Quebec, these two small children found themselves on a 168 acre farm, a world away from a half acre in Lisonuffy and a world away from everything they had ever known or loved.
In 2013, the Strokestown Community invited Daniel’s great grandson, Richard Tye (changed from Tighe), back home. And so, 166 years after little Daniel left, his descendants again set foot on Irish soil, a community celebrated, long-separated cousins embraced, and the family was again bound together.
The National Famine Way intertwines History through the Arts: not only in sculpture but also in literature and music. Daniel’s Tighe’s story reimagines each of the spaces and locations he passed through in May 1847. It is a digital storybook written by renowned and beloved Irish author Marita Conlon-McKenna.
The Anthem for the National Famine Way is by well known folk singer Declan O Rourke a beautiful song Go Domhanin i do chumhnie from his Album Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine.
Cuir tús le do shiúilóid ag an Bhalla Cuimhneacháin Ghloine ag Musaem an Ghorta Mhóir i bPáirc Bhéal na mBuillí i Ros Comáin agus siúil go Cluain Dá Rath agus as sin cois canála go Baile Átha Cliath, turas 165 cilimeadar. Tá ceann scríbe d’aistir ag dealbha an Ghorta Mhóir taobh leis an Jeannie Johnston, ar ancaire ag Cé Theach an Chustaim, san áit dheireanach ar leag an 1,490 duine as Ros Comáin cos ar thalamh na hÉireann i mí na Bealtaine 1847.
Thug a dtiarna talaimh an Maor Denis Mahon rogha an dá dhíogha dóibh, ‘imirce chuidithe’, ocras sa bhaile lena ngort de phrátaí lofa nó dul isteach i dteach scanrúil na mbocht.
Réamhrá don Chosán
Faoi shúil ghéar bháile an eastáit, John Robinson, cuireadh na fir, mná agus páistí seo ag siúil cois na Canála Ríoga go duganna Bhaile Átha Cliath áit a raibh galtáin ag fanacht chun iad a bhreith go Learpholl. As sin chuaigh siad ar bord loinge, ‘longa galaracha an bháis’, ina measc an Virginius agus an Naomi a d’iompair iad ar thuras scafár go Quebec i gCeanada. Fuair beagnach leath na n-imirceach ar bord an dá long seo bás ar an turas, ach d’éirigh rud beag níos fearr leo sin ar an Erin’s Queen agus ar an John Munn.
Aimsíodh ainmneacha an ‘1,490 Caillte’ i gCartlann an Ghorta Mhóir i bPáirc Theach Bhéal na mBuillí. Tá a gcuid ainmneacha agus a mbailte fearainn greanta ar an Bhalla Cuimhneacáin Ghloine ag Páirc Bhéal na mBuillí – teistiméireacht dá scéal.
SHOE STORIES - Daniel’s Story – Black ‘47
Shoe Stories by Marita Conlon-McKenna:
My name is Daniel Tighe. 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 which is marked by over 30 pairs of Bronze Shoes along the National Famine Way – now a 165 km accredited trail.
On the way to Moyvalley Catherine and I see two kingfishers on the canal. They sparkle like jewels as they fly over this beautiful stretch of water. Further on a tall grey heron with his long beak hides among the tall rushes fishing.
The quiet is broken when little James Flood takes a bad fall and he screams as he tumbles into the canal. Mr Robinson shouts at his mother Mary telling her that she should mind her children better. Mam and the other women are angry with him though luckily James Og is fine.
History: The impact of the Famine on the Irish language (in Gaelic and English)
You are now entering County Kildare, just a short drive from Dublin. Here you will find meandering canals, gripping scenery, horsey plains, beautiful big houses and gardens, Palladian mansions and intriguing Early Christian heritage sites. You can shop in high end fashion boutiques and centres, taste mouth-watering food and experience real Irish culture and craic… Skim the surface or discover in-depth. It’s all here in one easy trip. Learn more at www.intokildare.ie
Alongside the Canal at Moyvalley is Furey’s traditional Pub and Restaurant.
A few kilometres away, is the Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Club, a new hotel built close to the site of the original Royal Canal Hotel, which opened to travellers in 1807. In the years that followed, it was reported to be ‘the best of its kind and the best kept of any in Ireland’. When business began to decline, the canal company sought a tenant, but it did not fare much better.
In the 1820s, when the Ribbonmen – see Longwood local history on the Ribbonmen – were active in the area and were carrying out attacks on the canal boats, a local police force was drafted and stationed at Moyvalley. Another attempt to operate a hotel failed in the 1830s and, eventually, the building was purchased by a Mr. Switzer, who set up a Hydrotherapy establishment and built a Bath House. This proved a successful venture for some years, but eventually, Mr Switzer decided to close down, although he continued to live in the building until his death in 1891. The building was finally vacated in the 1930s and fell into ruins. It was demolished in 1977 to make way for the approach road for a new bridge.
It was located adjacent to the Balyna Estate, which was granted in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth I, to the O’Moore family, because they had lost their land in Laois and were reinstated in Balyna.
The first real record of any house on this estate dates from 1815, when Ambrose built a large mansion. That Georgian house was burned down and replaced in the 1880s by the present Italianate mansion.
The estate was a refuge for bishops and priests for centuries. Dr. Forstall, Bishop of Kildare, ordained priests here in the years 1678 — 1680. For this loyalty, the family was granted Papal permission to build a private Chapel on the estate (located to the rear of the house) and up to approximately 1914 Sunday Mass was offered.
The estate remained in the More O’Ferrall family until May 1960, when it was sold to the Bewley family – of Café fame. The wonderful milk and cream in the Cafes came from the pedigree Jersey herd at Balyna.
The Italianate Mansion house has been fully restored and is available for functions. It is now part of the Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Course complex.
See CATHAL PÓIRTÉIR below reflect on the impact of the Great Hunger on the Irish language (in Gaelic and English):
Please check ahead for opening hours as some are restricted / seasonal.
Furey’s traditional Pub and Restaurant
Moyvalley Hotel & Golf Club- 1.8 km
Cullentra Farm Shop & Open Farm- Longwood
Rathcore Golf Club- Enfield/ Longwood
ARTS & LITERATURE CONNECT:
Castlerickard Church & Cemetery (home to the Swift family vault)- Longwood (http://www.mmtrust.org.uk/mausolea/view/545/Swifte_Mausoleum_)