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
Shoes 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.
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 Sheridan, ‘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.
History: The Famine in Clondra
You are now in County Longford, which is located in Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands. County Longford is an anglers paradise and is home to beautiful woodland and bog walks and the Royal Canal Greenway.
Clondara is a small village situated where the Royal Canal terminates at the River Shannon. The canal was completed to Clondara in 1817. The total cost of the canal had been about £1.5 million and it had taken nearly 30 years to complete. Alongside the Church, as you enter the village, look out for the interesting ancient graveyard and grave-slabs. This was the site of an early monastery and hospice. Just over the bridge is Richmond Harbour, once a busy commercial centre with Bianconi Coaches and barges, now a beautifully restored harbour at the end of the Royal Canal.
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 nineteenth 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 twentieth 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 the 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.
ATTRACTIONS NEARBY :
Corlea Track Visitor Centre