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.
On reaching Abbeyshrule, with its bridge and large harbour, we were all shocked to see so many barges and boats, laden down with grain and sacks of flour, and barrels of porter. No sign of the hunger for some!
‘It would be easy enough to jump on one of them and snatch a small sack or two to eat,’ whispered Edward Flood, Peter Egan and Owen Sheridan, braver than me they were being a few years older. But Patrick Madden was the real ringleader, being 17 years old. .
‘If Robinson and his men catch you, you will soon regret it,’ warned his father, James Madden.
We stayed a night there for everyone was so tired and our feet and legs ached. They gave us water and more oatcakes, but we were still hungry.
In a large field near us there were rows and rows of turnips growing, but the landlord had a man with a pistol standing over his crop to guard them from a hungry hoard like us. We fell asleep under the stars, Mam and Uncle William taking turns to guard what little belongings we had with us.
History: Abbeyshrule and the harrowing conditions experienced by Strokestown’s missing 1,490 emigrants
An ancient, picturesque, award winning village which was the gold medal winner of the National Tidy Towns Award for 2012 and also twice for the European Entente Floral Competition. It has a Famine Pot feature, at the heart of its small village green. Abbeyshrule has its own harbour, slipway and amenity area. It also had a mill which is long gone. The canal crosses the River Inny, by the imposing Whitworth Aqueduct, half a kilometre north of the village. Abbeyshrule is also home to a fully functional aerodrome.
The village features one of the few eco housing schemes in the country, Corn Crake Meadow, which is fueled entirely by wood pellets.
One of the village’s most famous natives is Oliver Goldsmith, famous poet, playwright and novelist who was born at Pallas, Abbeyshrule on November 10th 1728. Pallas is situated 5 km from Abbeyshrule. A statue of Goldsmith at Pallas marks the location of the original Goldsmith homestead. The Goldsmith International Literary Festival takes place annually in Abbeyshrule, Ballymahon and the Three Jolly Pigeons in early June.
The ruins of a medieval Cistercian Abbey – the Abbey of Shrule built c. 1200 – is close by and worth a visit. It is well marked and has good information boards.
The Famine years were hard in Abbeyshrule. Local folklore recalls that the land agent Hugh Morrow, Corraboola House, had his field of turnips patrolled by men with pistols to scare off the starving locals.
The Longford Journal recorded stories of how Landlord Laurence King Harman had informants who were ‘ his eyes and ears in each area’ to monitor and report any abuses by the tenants.
Mark McGowan (University of Toronto) at Abbeyshrule, County Longford, recounts the harrowing conditions experienced by Strokestown’s missing 1,490 emigrants:
Please check ahead for opening hours as some are restricted / seasonal.
Cirstercian Abbey Ruins
ARTS & LITERATURE CONNECT: