A new book which documents the effect of the Great Irish Famine on the Strokestown Park House Estate was launched at the same venue on Wednesday last.
‘Strokestown and the Great Irish Famine’ takes its inspiration from the Strokestown Park Archive which is one of the largest estate collections in existence, with more than 50,000 documents comprising of details on rentals, leases, accounts, correspondence maps, drawings, architectural plans and photographs. Of particular importance are the papers that relate to the famine.
The book is written by Ciarán Reilly, who is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates at NUI Maynooth.
This publication aims to introduce the reader to the archive and to provide an microscopic insight into the varied experiences of Famine for those who inhabited the estate in the 1840s. Documents from the archive, many of which have not seen the light of day since they were generated almost 170 years ago, illuminate the text and provide the reader with a unique insight into Famine Ireland.
In the social memory of the Great Famine at Strokestown, the book recalls the assisted emigration of 1,490 people to Canada, the murder of Major Denis Mahon in 1847 and the subsequent clearance of as many as 3,000 tenants from the estate between 1848 to 1851 predominates.
The book has been given a foreword by former President Mary McAleese, who described the book as: “The most in-depth study of the effects of the Famine on a landed estate and its community.” She said: “With the help of this book, we are brought deep inside the actuality of life during the Famine era.”