The National Famine Way – bookended by Museums

The National Famine Way is unique amongst long distance walking trails in many ways, not least the fact that it starts and finishes at world class related Museums. The newly opened National Famine Museum|Strokestown Park is the museum at the trailhead in Strokestown, Co. Roscommon. The 165km trail finishes at the award-winning EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin’s Docklands. Visiting these best-in-class visitor experiences at the beginning and end of their journey is an ideal way for trail walkers to fully understand the extent and impact of the Great Famine in the mid-1800s.

National Famine Museum|Strokestown Park

Visitors are invited to explore the parallel lives of Strokestown Park’s aristocratic landlords and their tenants during the Great Irish Famine at the state-of-the-art National Famine Museum. It includes a world-class multimedia exhibition with innovative audio, audio-visual, and touchscreen resources designed to tell the story of the Famine through the personal tragedies of the tenants on the Strokestown estate and of their landlords, the once prosperous Pakenham Mahon family. The redevelopment work includes the creation of a new visitor centre, a bright new destination café showcasing local produce and a new retail space within the visitor centre. The vaulted stone stables have been converted into a boutique space to host cultural events and ceremonies. To accompany the self-guided tour audio-guides are available in six languages: English, Irish, French, Spanish, German and Mandarin.

Standing alongside the new Museum, Strokestown Park House is a uniquely authentic and evocative experience, one of the few historic properties in Ireland to retain its original features and collections. The Palladian Mansion is packed with the personal items of the Pakenham Mahon family and has been carefully preserved, like a time capsule, to show what life for the landed gentry was really like, and the eventual decline of the great country house in Ireland. Important conservation works to the Palladian Mansion have been completed to ensure this important 200-year-old heritage site will be preserved for future generations. Artefacts and documents from Strokestown’s extensive archive, which is home to the largest collection of material relating to the Great Famine, are showcased throughout the new museum including the Cloonahee Petition.

Tickets can be booked online.

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum

The National Famine Way culminates at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum winner of Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards for three years running (2019, 2020 and 2021). It’s the world’s first fully digital museum telling the story of 70 million people, none of whom live in Ireland.

Visitors explore, engage and connect with Irish history and culture in 20 interactive galleries bringing them beyond the stereotypes to help understand what it truly means to be Irish. It moves between joy and grief, pride and power while both saints and sinners share the same stage.

Devoid of leprechauns or pots of gold, the Museum discloses Ireland from the outside in, expanding far beyond the borders of Ireland through the stories of Irish emigrants who became scientists, politicians, poets, artists and even outlaws all over the world. Visitors discover why over 10 million people left this island, where they went and what they brought with them. Stories of adventure, adversity and triumph uncover along with personal stories in the galleries.

What really makes the Museum stand out is the immersive installations, interactive games and larger-than-life multimedia shows. Each offers something new and has its own mode of engagement mirroring the gallery’s theme. At the start each visitor is given a virtual passport which is stamped at each vault. At the final gallery, about the diaspora today, the passport unlocks personalised content and each person can send a virtual postcard which shoots off, pinging around the vault’s walls. Social media feeds are projected around the walls, telling stories from Irish people today.

Visitors can also explore their Irish ancestry through the Irish Family History Centre (IFHC) which is also located at the museum. Here they can access valuable records, speak with a genealogy expert and join the online community of people on a quest to learn about their Irish roots.

EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum is housed in The CHQ Building, a barrel-vaulted, restored 200-year-old Georgian warehouse that stands proudly on the banks of the Liffey and is established as an attractive recreation, retail, food and events hub in Dublin City centre.

Tickets can be booked online.