Irish Canadian Famine Research

Irish Canadian Famine Research

Month: August, 2014

A Tour of Famine Sights in Ireland: National Famine Museum, Strokestown, Roscommon; National Famine Monument, Mayo; Doolough Valley, Mayo; Rowan Gillespie Sculptures, Dublin.

From Donovan King:

My brother Jason (IrishCanadian FamineResearcher) & I visited many Famine Monuments in Ireland this summer. Here are some of the pictures. One of the most memorable for me was the Strokestown Famine Museum (, where we got to wander through the Palladian mansion of Anglo-Irish landlord Major Denis Mahon, an estate-owner who sent so many Famine-stricken Irish away on coffin ships to save himself some money. Needless to say, he was assassinated on November 2nd, 1847. I was pleased that this symbol of oppression is now a center of education. Not only could we wander through his luxurious home and learn about his bizarre habits, but there is now the National Famine Museum attached to his home and his woodland garden is now full of Famine sculptures created by students across Ireland.

National Famine Museum, Strokestown, County Roscommon:

Strokestown Park House


Portrait of Major Denis Mahon, assassinated November 2nd, 1847.

NPG D42554; Major Denis Mahon by Dickinson and Co, after  Thomas Charles Wageman


Pistol that was used to assassinate Denis Mahon:

Strokestown Park House 3 Denis Mahon Assassination pistol

Remains of Denis Mahon exposed to the elements in the ruins of the family crypt:

Denis Mahon Crypt 2

National Famine Museum Glass Wall Memorial to the 1490 Families forced to emigrate from the Mahon Estate in Stroketown, Roscommon, to Grosse Isle, Quebec in 1847 on board the Erin’s Queen, the Virginius, the Naomi, and the John Munn, which were some of the worst of the “coffin ships”:

1490 Glass Wall Memorial Strokestown 1


1490 Glass Wall Memorial Strokestown 3


Famine sculpture by secondary school students on woodland walk at Strokestown Park House:

Strokestown Park House sculpture competition

John Behan, National Famine Monument, at the foot of Croagh Patrick, Murrisk, County Mayo:


National Famine Memorial Murrisk Mayo 2


National Famine Memorial Murrisk Mayo 5


National Famine Memorial Murrisk Mayo 8


National Famine Memorial Murrisk Mayo 7


National Famine Memorial Murrisk Mayo 4

National Famine Memorial Murrisk Mayo 6

Doolough Valley Memorials for tragedy of 1849:

Dolough Valley Famine Memorial


Dolough Valley Famine Memorial 4


Dolough Valley Famine Memorial 2

Dolough Valley Famine Memorial 3


Dolough Valley Famine Memorial 5

Rowan Gillespie Famine Sculptures, Dublin:

Rowan Gillespie Monument 1

Rowan Gillespie Monument 5

Rowan Gillespie Monument 2


Radio Interview about Father Patrick Dowd, the Grey Nuns, and the Fever Sheds of Montreal during the Famine Migration of 1847-1848


Father Dowd Stain glass window

 Today, Dr Jason King from the University of Limerick joins us. He has created a virtual archive of the famine and is giving a lecture on Fr Dowd from Dunleer and his work in Montreal during the famine as part of the Thomas D’arcy Mc Gee summer school.  From 32:20.

LMFM The Midmorning Show Friday 15th of August 2014 

Fr. Dowd Cared For Famine Emigrants: Drogheda Independent (12 August 2014).

Father Dowd Drogheda Independent

Thomas D’Arcy McGee Summer School 2014 (August 17-20), Carlingford, County Louth: The Famine in Ulster

D'Arcy McGee Program p. 1


D'Arcy McGee Program p.2

D'Arcy McGee Program p.3


D'Arcy McGee Program p.4


D'Arcy McGee Program p.45


D'Arcy McGee Program p.6

Father Dowd & the Grey Nuns of Montreal

Father Dowd & the Grey Nuns of Montreal

During the summer of 1847 and in 1848, the Grey Nuns and Father Patrick Dowd from Dunleer, County Louth, worked tirelessly to care for Irish famine emigrants in the fever sheds of Montreal, and to provide homes for widows and orphans.  Dr. King has recently established a digital Irish Famine archive that contains their extensive eye-witness accounts of the suffering of famine emigrants:

In recognition of their compassion, devotion, and self-sacrifice, President Michael D. Higgins declared that: “As a country we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Grey nuns, who cared for so many Irish widows and orphans who were left destitute, impoverished and alone in a strange country”.  At the National Famine Commemoration on 11 May 2014, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny also paid tribute to “The Grey Nuns and the quality of their mercy” in looking “after 800 children whose parents had died on board the emigrant ships”.  Similarly, at the 2012 National Famine Commemoration in Drogheda, Minister Jimmy Deenihan called upon the nation to “remember Fr. Patrick Dowd who was born in 1813 and curate of Drogheda during the height of the famine. He moved to Montreal in 1848 to work with the Grey Nuns looking after the Irish famine victims”. Father Dowd and the Grey Nuns founded the Montreal St. Patrick’s Orphanage in 1851.  On November 24th, 2013, the Father Patrick Dowd Bi-Centenary Celebration was held in Dunleer and Montreal to honor his legacy as part of “The Gathering”.

Father Dowd was also a close friend and ally of Thomas D’Arcy McGee.  Together they provided clerical and lay leadership for Montreal’s Irish community in the 1850s and 1860s when it was confronted with French-Canadian ethno-religious rivalry and the threat of Fenian political unrest. It fell upon Father Dowd, accompanied by two Grey Nuns, to break the news of her husband’s assassination to Mary McGee in 1868.

Dr. King is now expanding the digital Irish Famine archive to include Father Dowd’s recently discovered correspondence written during the famine in County Louth and in Montreal. His lecture will explore the Grey Nuns’ and Father Patrick Dowd’s heroic work in saving the lives of famine emigrants in Montreal’ fever sheds and creating institutions for their care, his close friendship with Thomas D’Arcy McGee, and of the Canadian Irish heritage of these two legendary figures from Louth. The theme of this year’s summer school is D’Arcy McGee: The Famine In Ulster. To find out how to attend the talk go to