Strokestown Famine Museum: another fantastic chapter penned

National Famine Museum Strokestown which has been redeveloped and is due to re-open shortly.
Pic Shows John O’Driscoll, general manager and former curator p[ictured in the museum.
Photo Brian Farrell
The other day I got a phone call from an old acquaintance whom I haven’t met or spoken to in over thirty years. He’s a ‘true blue’ Dub, born and bred in the capital, and still happily living there. Naturally, we had a good chat, but what prompted the call was interesting…he’d been making enquiries about the National Famine Way, and that had led him to me and the Roscommon People.

The National Famine Way is a 167km walking and cycling trail from Strokestown to Dublin that invites people to literally follow in the footsteps of 1,490 emigrants who took that route during the Great Famine.

The call brought home to me the extent to which the phenomenal development of Strokestown Park House (and grounds) and later the Famine Museum and related amenities has put the area on the map, with the obvious benefits in terms of the local economy, tourism, etc. Of course the greatest contribution the Famine Museum is making is in keeping alive the story of this tragic chapter of Irish history for current and future generations.

To be fair to governments of recent times, there appears to have been steady support for the ongoing development of this wonderful, historic amenity on our doorstep. Of course most of the credit must go to Jim Callery and the Callery family, the Westward Group and all the hard-working people (like John O’Driscoll) who have driven this great project over the years. In particular, Jim Callery’s initial vision and determination is what made the ambitious renovation and development of Strokestown House and Park possible; his passion throughout the decades has been key to this success story.

Now, as we report in this issue, the newly-developed state-of-the-art National Famine Museum will open to visitors at Strokestown Park in early July 2022. This follows a €5m investment, with funding of €3.75m from Fáilte Ireland and €1.25m from the owners of Strokestown Park House, Westward Holdings Ltd, in partnership with the Irish Heritage Trust. Members of the public can enjoy a sneak preview on Tuesday, June 14th.

I congratulate Jim Callery, the Callery family, Westward Holdings Ltd and all associated with this fantastic new chapter in the history of Strokestown Park.