Roscommon to start National Famine Way Commemorative Walk in fine style

Caroilin Callery of the Irish Famine Way pictured with replica bronze shoes before they departed for Canada where they are to be presented during a Marine Institute research trip to mark the launch of the Global Irish Famine Way. Pic: Andrew Downes, xposure

Roscommon is the focal point for the opening events of The National Famine Way Commemorative Walk.

Sunday, May 19th is National Famine Commemoration Day and on that evening the Percy French Hotel in Strokestown will host a ‘Canadian Wake’.

Based on the traditional American Wake, this marks the connection between the National Famine Way and the emigrant who walked it destined for Canada. The special guest is Ambassador of Ireland to Canada, Eamonn McKee.

Strokestown Park House is the starting point for the walk itself on Monday, May 20th. It begins with a dramatic re-enactment of the events in 1847 which prompted the foundation of the trail including traditional musicians, school children and walkers dressed in famine costume.

Members of the Tighe family, whose ancestors were evicted, will read the names of the 1,490 tenants forced to leave their homes in Strokestown, march to Dublin and emigrate to Canada on the worst of the infamous coffin ships. Only half of the emigrants survived.

Their names are etched on a commemorative glass wall outside the National Famine Museum.

The Commemorative Walk takes place over six days from Monday 20th to Saturday 25th of May. It will be led by Ambassador McKee and representatives of the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail to mark the launch of the Global Irish Famine Way.

The Commemorative Walk is free, accessible and open to everyone in the six counties it passes through to join in.

Starting at the National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park in Roscommon, it follows the National Famine Way for 165 km to EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin’s Docklands.

The National Famine Way traverses six counties and each is staging commemorative events as the walkers pass through. The National Famine Way is a collaboration between Waterways Ireland, the Irish Heritage Trust and the county councils along the route.

The local authorities involved are Roscommon, Longford, Westmeath, Meath, Kildare, Fingal, and Dublin.