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.nationalfamine way.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.
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.
A mile or so further the land grows wild as we come to Cloonshanagh Bog, where for as far as the eye can see, for miles, the white puffs of bog cotton blow like fluffy clouds and the lazy blue dragon flies hover over the muddy bog pools. In the distance I can see a scrawny old man and a boy in rags, picking turf and loading it up onto a rickety hand cart.
I always loved going up on the bog with father to cut turf, and drying it and then bringing it home and piling it high by the side of the cottage. It would fuel our fire all winter long and keep us warm. But now, with father gone, I will never cut turf again with him or spend a day up in the wild beauty of the bog lands.
Now the bogs are covered in hovels where no one ever had to live before so desperate are the times and the same on my beloved Sliabh Bawn mountain by our cottage in Lisonuffy, people forced up the side of the mountain mostly barren and not fit to provide for a family.
Bravely I grab a fistful of bog and add it to the clay in my pocket. It makes me feel closer to my Da.
History: Cloonshanagh Bog and the landscapes of Famine Ireland and potato blight.
As the population of Ireland exploded, in the first part of the nineteenth century, people found themselves forced to live and take shelter in inhospitable locations rarely inhabited by humans such as up the sides of mountains like Sliabh Bawn and deep in bogs like Clonshanagh.
Turbary rights were rented out on some sections of bog – see Map below from the Strokestown Archive. They were sought after, a source of heat for cooking, heating for the long harsh winters and potential product to sell or trade at Market.
Cathal Póirtéir appears in Cloonshanagh Bog and speaks about the landscapes of Famine Ireland and potato blight. He recites three verses in Gaelic from Na Fataí Bána (The White Potatoes) by Peatsaí Ó Callanáin.
Peatsaí Ó Callanáin was from Roscommon. He and his brother, Marcus, were recognised local poets and song makers who famously put blind Raftery to shame in a poetry duel.
Peatsaí Ó Callanáin wrote a long poem emphasising the importance of the potato and the distress caused by the blight. Here is Cathal reciting a few verses from it.
Ach is é mo dhíobháil iad imeacht uainn
Ba mhaith an chuideacht iad is an t-údar rince
Biodh spóirt is siamsa againn in aice leo.
Sin é an dáta is níl fáth gan ábhar
A mbeidh cuimhne is trácht air i gcaitheamh an tsaoil
Mar níor tháinig uireasa dá mhéad a cháiliocht
Is mó na gantann in easpa an bhídh.
Céard a cheannós bráithlín don fhear a sinfear
Tobac ná píopaí ná cónra chláir
Ach Ard Rí Fhlaithúnais le cabhair is slí ‘gainn
Agus ar ndóigh b’aoibhinn dhúinn dhá bhfaigheadh muid bás.
No a menities nearby until Tarmonbarry.