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.
Bailiff Robinson says that we are not walking fast enough and tells us that we all must hasten our pace.
‘We have small children and babies and the legs are already walked off them,’ Mother and the other women protest.
‘There are 10 of us,’ James Flood Snr muttered, ‘and the Sheridans have twelve !’
‘They need to rest more,’ Uncle William pleads with Robinson, ‘for some are growing weak.’
The Bailiff nods and orders the men and older boys to help the women and children.
This long stretch of the canal is beautiful and peaceful and soon we come to the spur that heads off and leads to Longford Harbour and town, but John Coleman tells us of a passenger boat that went down in Longford Harbour near here only a year or two ago. Sixteen passengers that could not escape and get off the boat were drowned in these so called stilly waters.
‘What a terrible way to die,’ murmurs Thomas Feeney as we move on.
History: Aghnaskea, Killashee
Longford Branch Spur.
Longford, the bustling county town, is noted for its neoclassical Cathedral on which work began in the early 1840s. An 8.5 km branch of the Royal Canal ran from here to Longford town. Before and during the Famine, many emigrants travelled by canal from Longford and the surrounding region to Dublin, from where they made the journey overseas.
Longford Harbour was the scene of a tragic accident on 3 March 1845 when a passenger boat sank. Seven passengers died. They were:
Mary Farrell, Aughadangan, Strokestown, aged about 23;
Bridget Mulherne, Drinagh, Tarmonbarry, aged about 28;
Catherine Mulherne, aged about 32 and her child of about 6 weeks old;
Margaret Burke, Drumsna, Co. Leitrim, aged 18;
Widow Thacker, Mosstown Kenagh, aged 40;
John Higgins, Cloncoose, Co. Leitrim, aged 26.
As famine conditions worsened in the spring of 1846, a depot for grain (maize or so-called ‘Indian meal’) was opened beside the canal in Longford. It operated for several months and served the surrounding region. The Longford Journal reported on 28 March 1846 that 574 bags, each weighing 20 stones, had arrived from Dublin. On 20 June, the Journal noted that in the previous fortnight, a total of 50 tons were dispatched to various places: Carrick-on-Shannon, County Leitrim; Castlerea, Strokestown, Roscommon, Athleague, Roosky and Elphin, all in County Roscommon; and Granard and Kenagh, County Longford. Undoubtedly, grain was carried by canal boat where possible.
The effects of the Famine in the Killashee area were severe and are best illustrated by reference to the figures available for the soup kitchen that served Killashee Electoral Division. Open from 3 May to 12 September 1847, the highest number of people it served on any one day was 1,873 or 42% of the 1841 population of 4,491. At its closure, it was serving 33% of the population, which was one of the highest totals in Longford Poor Law Union at that time.
No amenities nearby until Killashee.
Please check ahead for opening hours as some are restricted / seasonal.
Corlea Track Visitor Centre