The National Famine Walk – Famino, will take place over six days from May 25th to May 30th 2019 when an international group of walkers will launch the National Famine Way walking trail.
The trail begins in Strokestown, and ends at the Jeannie Johnson Famine Ship, and Rowan Gillespie Famine sculptures at Custom House Quay, Dublin. Walkers will follow county roads from Strokestown to Clondra, Co Longford, before taking to the rural towpaths of the Royal Canal which will lead them into the heart of Dublin city.
They will follow in the footsteps of the 1,490 tenants from Denis Mahon’s estate at Strokestown Park who were forced to emigrate during the summer of ‘Black 47’, one of the worst years of suffering of the Great Irish Famine. Strokestown Park, is now home to the Irish National Famine Museum.
The story of the tenants’ fate is a harrowing one. They were escorted to Dublin by Bailiff Robinson to ensure they boarded ship and did not return home. They travelled on open deck packet steamers to Liverpool docks where they waited in quayside cellars before boarding four ‘coffin ships’ to Canada. The ships, Erin’s Queen, Naomi, The Virginius and The John Munn, were unsuitable and poorly provisioned. Of the 1,490 who set off along the Royal Canal, fleeing the hunger and disease that surrounded them and hoping for a better life, almost half died either onboard ship or shortly after disembarking at the ‘fever sheds’ at Grosse Isle in Quebec, Canada.
In 2019, 172 years later, the Strokestown Famine walkers will commemorate this journey and blaze a new, officially accredited, National Famine Way walking trail between Strokestown and Dublin.
Charlotte O’Connnor of the Irish Heritage Trust says: "This adventurous 165 km cross country trail follows the Royal Canal as it weaves through country lanes, villages, towns and city. It can be done in sections over time or all at once - as you choose. Follow the story of Strokestown’s Famine Emigrants on this commemorative walk as our interactive bronze shoe sculptures create a thought provoking experience. The trail is topped and tailed by two iconic museums – The National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park and The Jeanie Johnston Famine Ship / EPIC - Irish Emigration Museum at the Dublin end."
"We are inviting local people and communities to join us for stretches of the journey between 25th and 30th. Walk awhile with us, for a short or long stretch - or support us by becoming an official walker and registering on www.nationalfamineway.ie. Meet us on our arrival or departure from Mullingar on the 27th at 5pm or 28th at 9.30am. Greet us at the Jeanie Johnston at Custom House Quay on May 30th and afterwards join in the official Launch of the National Famine Way Trail at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum. We would be delighted to have you as part of this event.
"Our website has information on registration and is a wonderful historical resource containing interviews and articles created during the 2017 Pilot Walk. The Famine walkers’ journey can be followed in real time at www.nationalfamineway.ie.
Fri, 24th May 8pm Canadian Wake, at the Percy French Hotel, Strokestown
Sat, 25th May 11am-5pm Strokestown to Clondra - 20km
Sun, 26th May 9.30am-5pm Clondra - Abbeyshrule - 32km
Mon, 27th May 9:30am-5pm Abbeyshrule - Mullingar - 27km
Tues, 28th May 9:30am-5pm Mullingar - Longwood - 30km
Wed, 29th May 9:30-5pm Longwood – Maynooth - 28km
Thurs, 30th May 9.30 am-5pm Maynooth - Dublin - 27 km
Thurs, 30th May 5pm Official Launch of the National Famine Way Trail at CHQ/EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum Irish Emigrants Museum, Custom House Quay, Dublin