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The National Famine Walk will take place over six days from May 27th to June 1st when an international group of Famine scholars will follow in the footsteps of the 1,490 tenants from Denis Mahon’s estate who were forced to emigrate during the summer of 1847. We will walk 155 km from Strokestown and Clondra all the way along the Royal Canal to Spencer Dock, the Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship, and Rowan Gillespie Famine sculptures in Dublin city centre. The event recreates the journey of 1,490 tenants from the Mahon estate at Strokestown Park, now the site of the Irish National Famine Museum, who were escorted by Bailiff Robinson to Dublin to ensure they boarded 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 ship 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 2017, the Strokestown Famine walkers will follow in their footsteps 170 years after their original journey and blaze a new National Famine Way walking trail along the Royal Canal between Strokestown and Dublin. The Famine walkers’ journey can be followed in real time at www.nationalfamineway.ie. We are inviting local people to join us for stretches of the journey between May 26th and June 1st.
Including blog posts reflecting on the sites passed, and comparing the Finnish and Irish famine experiences: http://nationalfamineway.ie/charity-international-philanthropy-domestic-noblesse-oblige-carton-house/ http://nationalfamineway.ie/memory-emigration-custom-house-quay/ http://nationalfamineway.ie/the-terrible-visitation-famine-in-finland-and-ireland-c-1845-1868/