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1,490 Strokestown-Liverpool Commemoration Walk

ArtsGroupie walks the National Famine Way

As part of our collaborative work on the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail, this May Artsgroupie CIC will join Liverpool Irish Festival and a team to walk from The National Famine Museum in the midlands of Ireland to the port of Dublin.

This commemorates the 1847 journey taken by 1,490 evictees from Strokestown Estate (Co. Roscommon, Ireland). The evictees were marched 165km to Dublin, to be put on cargo ships to Liverpool and thence to Canada. It’s estimated over half those who made the journey died before they reached their destination.

STROKESTOWN TO ST LUKES CHURCH

The route we’ll walk in Ireland is known as The National Famine Way. Its marked at regular intervals with commemorative bronze shoes. These were cast from a real pair of 19th century children’s shoes found on Strokestown Estate.

The Festival’s Artistic Director and CEO, Emma Smith, will walk with History Research Group leader, John Maguire. They’ll be joined by Liverpool Great Hunger Commemoration Committee member (and local historian) Greg Quiery and members of the National Famine Way and Strokestown Estate teams. We’ll walk with Ireland’s Ambassador to Canada, Eamonn McKee. All told it will be a group of around 20 people. Our team will carry a pair of bronze commemorative shoes along the route to Dublin. They’ll then cross the Irish Sea to Liverpool, before being taken to the Liverpool Irish Famine Memorial.

Once the shoes arrive in Liverpool, we’ll walk them from Clarence Dock — where 1.3m Irish migrants arrived during An Gorta Mór — to the Irish Famine Memorial at St Luke’s Church. The shoes will remain in Liverpool as a poignant symbol of the shared history of Liverpool and Ireland, a history both devastating and enriching. Two further pairs of the commemorative shoes, will travel onward to Canada, to be homed there. Later in the year, during the Liverpool Irish Famine Memorial in October, Ireland’s UK Ambassador, Martin Fraser, and Consul General Sarah Mangan, will repeat the Clarence Dock to St Luke’s Church walk.

LIVERPOOL IRISH FAMINE TRAIL

The Story

In 1847 at the height of the Irish Famine, 1490 men, women and children set out from Strokestown in Co. Roscommon, Ireland on a walk that would see half of them perish.

Guided by their landlord’s agent they walked the gruelling 165km to Dublin port and onwards to the UK and North America because it was cheaper for their landlord to assist their emigration than it was for him to keep them in the Roscommon poorhouse.

177 years on, Liverpool Irish Festival friends and custodians of Liverpool’s Irish Famine Trail will set off from Strokestown on 19 May 2024 to walk the route of the evictees - now marked by the National Famine Way.

Along the way they will carry a pair of bronze shoes, cast from an exact pair found at the Strokestown estate and now the symbol of the ‘Famine Way’.

The shoes mark a reconnection between the Irish famine emigrants and the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail which curates and preserves sites and stories of the Liverpool Irish Famine migrants for future generations.

The route will start in Strokestown, moving onward to Dublin Port, onto the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, Holyhead to Birkenhead and from Seacombe (Birkenhead) by ferry to the Mersey Port.

The walkers will then carry the shoes via Clarence Dock Gates, through which 1.3m Irish lives passed and by foot to the Liverpool Irish Famine Memorial at St Luke's Church in Liverpool.

Our Home

Commissioned in 2021, 'Our Home' ((c) Ella Dalton and Thomas Jones) is a short film documenting the sites of the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail.

The Trail itself documents the lives of 1.3m Irish people, who came through the city during An Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger) in 1845-52. Set to the Festival's theme song, and told through the eyes of a young mother and child, viewers come to learn alittle of the landscape they faced then and what this looks like today.

The film was funded with National Lottery Heritage Fund funding and commissioned through an open call led by the Liverpool Irish Festival.

Play Video

John Maguire talks about The Walk of the Bronze Shoes on BBC Sounds

Scroll to 1hr 28m to hear the feature: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p0hpknmb

So how can you help?

The team will be raising vital funds to support the ongoing work of the Liverpool Irish Festival in the conservation, digitisation and upgrading of the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail.

We are passionate about maintaining this legacy and this history for future generations.

Funds raised on this walk will contribute towards:

  • The commissioning of the bronze shoes being cast as tangible heritage reference of the Strokestown Famine group and their link to Liverpool. These shoes will find a permanent home in Liverpool just as the migrants who wore them did.
  • Maintaining the existing trail and its heritage whilst exploring new relevant sites of interest. As custodians of the Trail, we are doing all we can to reinstate the Trail and to refresh the Memorial monument, which has served as a poignant marker for people since 1998.
  • Developing an app to enable visitors to Liverpool to explore and understand the importance and relevance of the Irish Famine story to our city and its communities.

If you can donate to this cause today, we’d also love to invite you to join us on a re-run of the last part of the walk on 27 Oct 2024, ahead of an Irish Famine Memorial event planned as part of Liverpool Irish Festival 2024.

Donate at Just Giving

Thank you for your support of the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail and helping us to honour Liverpool's role in supporting the Irish Famine poor and the legacy of that support today.

irish famine plaque clarence dock

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