A pilgrimage’s progress

A post card a day…

Two of our walkers will document their pilgrimage; one using journals and the other photography. Each day, the two will collaborate to create a digital post card from the Trail (Wi-Fi permitting). Those post cards will be presented here, day-by-day, and shared on social media. Keep checking back to view their progress. Look out for the following hashtags: #famineway #missing1490 #globalirishfamineway

 

Bridging with kindness – day 4, 22 May 2024

Front

Coolnahay Harbour, where the 1490 were fed en route to Dublin.

Back

Post card from day 4. Text transcribed below.

John message:

Overcast day, but no rain or severe sunshine. Through bog-land and mesmerising vistas. Over lunch we stopped where the 1490 were actually fed back in 1847. Local communities meet, greet and genuinely encourage as we continue. Bridging the past with our present. From desolate rural plains, we reach built up areas which feels strange and jarring. The halfway mark! And the body starts to tell us.

 

 

The long look back from the Cloondara shoes – day 3, 21 May 2024

Front

Bronze Shoes at Cloondara (Longford), surrounded by decorated pebbles.

Back 

Day 3 post card text. Transcribed below.

John’s message

The rain came down forever, soaking rain. Stark contrast to yesterday. Lush hedgerows, green spaces flank the canal stony paths. How did the 1490 walk along in this weather? Here we are walking in  ‘rain-proof’ plastics. Their natural fibres, weigh heavy when wet. Heavy on the clothing, heavy on the mood. Meagre possessions perishing in the rain. How did they steer their young children along this canal stretch. It’s hard to direct yourself.  Looking back at a landscape that would have been called home, destroyed.

From field to flow – day 2, 20 May 2024

Front 

History Research Group leader, John Maguire, holds the Strokestown National Famine Bronze Shoes in their presentation box, shortly after their presentations.

Back

Day 2 - back of our Day 2 post card; prose typed below.

John’s message

To: Liverpool Irish Festival. FF9 Northern Lights. 5 Mann Street, Liverpool, L8 5AF, UK.

Collected the bronze shoes for Liverpool. Recreated this morning the Strokestown eviction from 1847. Sunshine to the point the tarmac melted our very path as we walked on. Like the migrants that tread before, the shoes have not got a final destination. But we are going to find one. When we own so little the land is all we know, so if we’ve not got the land what have we got! Walking through the emerald green fields. Up the old Dublin road, we journey. We reach the end of the canal, point 46.

A safe passage – day 1, 19 May 2024

Front

A picture of the ferry's tide path, on ferry from Holyhead to Dublin

 
Back

Post card 1, Day 1 of The Walk of the Bronze Shoes. Content typed out below.

John’s message:

To: Liverpool Irish Festival. FF9 Northern Lights. 5 Mann Street, Liverpool, L8 5AF, UK.

Fresh Sunday Morning.

Sea Salt Spray, kisses the cheeks.

I think of the ancestors crossing here on flimsy vessels NOT on sturdy, secure ships like this one.

2 hours now instead of 6!

An Irish greyhound bus whisks us across from Dublin to Roscommon.

To the Big House, to participate in a re-enactment of the 1490 tenants being thrown off the land ahead of the 6  day trudge to Dublin.

Starved, destitute, evicted from the land they called home.

Tomorrow we re-trace the steps taken.

NB. All stamps (c) An Post. These have been modified for digital purposes, but remain the copyright of the original artists and An Post.

Context

Between 19-27 May 2024, members of the Liverpool Irish Festival team along with Irish and Canadian friends, will walk Ireland’s National Famine Way.

They will transport a pair of bronze shoes to Liverpool. Simultaneously, multiple pairs of bronze shoes will sail the seas to find homes across the world. 

John Maguire – the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail‘s History Research Group leader – talks about The Walk of the Bronze Shoes on BBC Sounds (scroll to 1hr 28m to hear the feature).

Global Irish Famine Way

On Sat 25 May 2024, the walkers — and invited guests — will officially launch the Global Irish Famine Way. This network of trails will link across the world to showcase the plight of 1.3m+ people. These were the people forced to leave Ireland during An Gorta Mór (The Great Hunger) in 1845-52. 

Just Giving (TM) logo in purple.Running alongside The Walk of the Bronze Shoes is a fundraiser. This will raise much needed unrestricted funding for the development of the Liverpool Irish Famine TrailRead more and give to the campaign, here

“You’ve brought life to history and history to life”, Minister Heather Humphreys.

Itinerary

  • Sun 19 May 2024: Paul Robinson will drive Emma Smith, John Maguire and Greg Quiery to Holyhead ferry terminal. The three will take the Holyhead to Dublin ferry, before catching a bus from Dublin to Strokestown. This group will be known as the Liverpool party. At 7pm there will be an ‘American/Canadian Wake’
  • Mon 20 May 2024: Walk from Strokestown to Scramogue/Clondra (20km). Start the day in period dress. During the week, schools and other parties will join to complete sections of the walk with the main party. Walking Tours Ireland and the National Waterways teams will run support vehicles and carry luggage
  • Tue 21 May 2024: Walk from Condra to Abbeyschrule (30km)
  • Wed 22 May 2024: Walk from Abbesyschrule to Mullingar (27km)
  • Thurs 23 May 2024: Walk from Mullingar to Longwood (30km)
  • Fri 24 May 2024: Walk from Longwood to Maynooth (27km)
  • Sat 25 May 2024: Walk from Maynooth to Dublin (27km). Arrive at EPIC in period costume, ready for a launch of the Global Irish Famine Way. The Liverpool Irish Festival will present an artistic commission to the Strokestown team, in honour of and thanks for the connection made with the 1,490
  • Sun 26 May 2024: The Liverpool party will return via ferry from Dublin to Holyhead. Paul Robinson will collect from Holyhead. The shoes will stay on Wirral
  • Mon 27 May 2024: The shoes will be taken to Seacombe Ferry, sailing on a pleasure cruiser to Liverpool’s Mersey Port. From Mersey Port, they will be walked to Clarence Dock gates (those facing the entrance to Cotton Street), before being walked to St Luke’s Bombed Out Church. This concludes the 2024 Walk of the Bronze Shoes.

Canadian progress

Ahead of the main walk, fifteen pairs of bronze shoes were sent to Canada on research vessel, the Celtic Explorer. A leading light in forging these connections is Ireland’s Ambassador to Ireland, Dr Eamonn McKee, who will walk the National Famine Way with the Liverpool and Strokestown teams in May 2024.

The following images have been captured and shared by the Canadian team.

On 1 May, the first of the shoes arrived in Newfoundland. The story made it to RTÉ and was captured by Caroilin Callery (Strokestown lead) in this home footage:

Additional coverage can be seen here:

UK acknowledgement

Made possible with the National Lottery Heritage Fund logoThe Liverpool Irish Festival is indebted to The National Lottery Heritage Fund. Through their support, we have been able to continue work on the Liverpool Irish Famine Trail, maintain our History Research Group and undertake this link with the Global Irish Famine Way. To them — and to players of the National Lottery — we give our thanks.