Following in the footsteps of Strokestown’s missing 1490.
May 25th to May 30th 2019
The 2019 Commemorative National Famine Walk took place over six days from May 25th to May 30th when an international group of famine walkers followed in the footsteps of the 1490 tenants from Denis Mahon’s estate who were forced to emigrate during the summer of 1847. They walked 167 km from Strokestown and Clondra all the way along the Royal Canal to Spenser Dock, the Jeannie Johnson Famine Ship, and Rowan Gillespie Famine sculptures in Dublin city centre. The event recreates the journey of 1490 tenants from the Mahon estate at Strokestown Park, now the site of the Irish National Famine Museum (http://www.strokestownpark.ie/), who were escorted by Bailiff Robinson to Dublin to ensure they boarded the ship and did not return home. Their journey took place in May 1847 or ‘Black 47’, one of the worst years of suffering of the Great Irish Famine.
The story of the tenants’ fate after they left Dublin is a harrowing one. They travelled on open deck packet steamers to Liverpool where they waited in the cellars of quayside buildings at Liverpool docks to board their ships to Canada. The four ships they boarded – Erin’s Queen, Naomi, The Virginius and The John Munn – were badly fitted out and poorly provisioned. Almost half of those who embarked died aboard ships or in the ‘fever sheds’ at Grosse Isle when they arrived in Quebec. Of course, this was not known to them as they walked along the Royal Canal to Dublin, away from hunger and hoping for a better life.
In 2019, the Strokestown Famine walkers followed in their footsteps, 172 years after their original journey and blazed a new National Famine Way walking trail along the Royal Canal between Strokestown and Dublin.