Strokestown Park House Exterior
Strokestown Park House Exterior

National Famine Museum Reopens

The National Famine Museum located at Strokestown Park in Co Roscommon has re-opened following a two-year closure.
One of the new exhibitions at the National Famine Museum in Roscommon. Photo: National Famine Museum Facebook.

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The new state-of-the-art attraction tells the story of the Great Hunger, the single most devastating event to happen in Ireland during the 19th century, resulting in the death of one million people, with millions more leaving the country, mostly to North America.

The newly revamped museum explores the parallel lives of the aristocracy who lived in the big house and their tenants.
A display showing the number of passengers bound for the famine ship Erin's Queen, which sailed from Liverpool to Canada. Photo: National Famine Museum Facebook.

Visitors can take a self-guided tour and learn more about the tragedy through imaginative scenes and innovative audio recordings.

Much of the information in the museum is based on the extensive archives of the estate, which includes over 55,000 documents.

The voices of tenants speak through some of those documents and illustrate the plight of the tenants and their pleas for help, while other documents from the landlord and his agents include notices to quit, leading to tenant evictions, emigration, and some cases, death.

Everyday objects like farming tools and worn-out shoes once worn by famine victims are on display in the museum, in addition to other evidence that points to the political, social, economic, and environmental factors that played a part in the national tragedy.


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Self-guided tours are available in English, Irish, French, Spanish, German, and Mandarin.

The person at the center of the National Famine Museum’s story is the Strokestown House landlord Major Denis Mahon who was murdered in November 1847, the first landlord to be assassinated during the Famine.

The gun that was used to shoot him is on display, as well as the story of those who killed him.

In the museum, you’ll also learn about the cruel emigration scheme that Mahon created that resulted in 1,490 of his tenants walking from the estate in Roscommon to emigration ships in Dublin, a 100-mile journey.

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Read The Great Hunger: Ireland – 1845-1849 by Cecil Woodham-Smith

a girl dressed in period costume National Famine Museum
Costumed actors pictured at the docks in Dublin recreate the journey taken in 1847. Photo courtesy of the National Famine Way.

It is now commemorated in the form of the National Famine Way, a walking/cycling route that runs parallel to the Grand Canal.

Their destination was Quebec, but many died along the way. That part of their story and that of others is retold at the Jeannie Johnston Famine Ship on Dublin’s Custom House Quay.

See the Jeannie Johnston and Other Dublin Attractions with the Dublin Pass

Visitors can also take a one-hour guided tour of Strokestown Park House, a Palladian mansion that was owned by the Pakenham-Mahon family for over 300 years.

a dining room National Famine Museum
One of the rooms in Strokestown House. Photo: Chris Hill, Tourism Ireland.

Explore its grand formal rooms, nursery, schoolroom, and galleried kitchen, as well as a varied collection of antique furniture, dining sets, kitchenware, toys, and other artifacts from a bygone age.

Outside the estate’s 6-acre gardens and mature woodlands are the ideal place to relax.

The museum is open throughout June, July, and August from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., in March, April, May, September, and October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and in January, February, November, and December from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Guided house tours are available at 10 a.m. 12 p.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. No pre-booking is available for the museum, but it is recommended for house tours. Details on admission to the museum and the house can be found on the website.

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