Group to begin six-day 'Famine walk' from Roscommon to Dublin

The 155k trek will be re-enacted in full costume

Group to begin six-day 'Famine walk' from Roscommon to Dublin

Image: nationalfamineway.ie

A group of 12 scholars are taking part in a six-day walk from Roscommon to Dublin to commemorate the Famine.

The walk is following in the footsteps of 1,490 tenants who were forced to emigrate to Canada during the summer of 1847.

President Michael D Higgins will greet the walkers on Saturday at a commemorative event at Richmond Harbour in Clondra, Co Longford.

The 155k trek along the Royal Canal will be a re-enactment of the long walk tenants took from the Strokestown Estate to Dublin before emigrating to Canada.

The Famine had destroyed their lives in Roscommon, and this was the only course of action open to them.

Their journey took place in May 1847 - or 'Black 47' - one of the worst years of suffering of the Great Irish Famine.

The group will also walk in costume - which will comprise of bits of cloth, rope and "very old, tatty clothes".

'Harrowing fate'

The tenants were escorted by Bailiff Robinson to Dublin to ensure they boarded ships and did not return home.

The story of their fate after they left Dublin has been described as 'harrowing'.

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.

Descendants traced

Organisers say descendants of the #Missing1490 are being traced. See the full list here

The Strokestown House and Famine Archive staff have traced some of their descendants, but are trying to find them all to commemorate Famine heritage.

"We are launching an appeal to solve the mystery of the #Missing1490 by locating the descendants of those who survived this walk and emigrated to Canada and the United States", Caroilin Callery of Strokestown Park and the Irish National Famine Museum says.

"Building on the success of the 2015 Irish Famine Walk we will be walking along the new and developing National Famine Way trail along the Royal Canal between Strokestown, Co Roscommon and Dublin.

"This walk, 170 years after the individual emigrants' original journey will become our own Camino".

"In walking in the footsteps of our missing Strokestown 1490, we hope not only to recreate their journey but also honour their legacy.

"We want to find their living descendants in Canada and the United States, and invite them to join us on the National Famine Way".

People can log on to track the progress of the walkers, and get insight into what the Famine was like and how life turned out for some of the original 1,490 people forced to take this path.

People are also being encouraged to use the #Missing1490 hashtag on Twitter.