Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Book launch: Strokestown and the Great Irish Famine

A new book, Strokestown and the Great Irish Famine, has been published by Four Courts Press. The author, Dr Ciarán Reilly, heads up the Strokestown Emigrant Project at the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses & Estates at NUI Maynooth, which aims to bring together information about the 5,000 emigrants who left east Roscommon during the Famine.

The book introduces the reader to the Strokestown Park Archive, one of the largest estate collections in existence with more than 50,000 documents comprising rentals, leases, accounts, correspondence maps, drawings, architectural plans and photographs. Of particular importance are the papers that relate to the Great Irish Famine. 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 a microscopic insight into the many and varied experiences of Famine for those who inhabited the estate in the 1840s.

Mary McAleese, in a Foreward, describes the book as "the most in-depth study of the effects of the Famine on a landed estate and its community … With the help of this book, we are brought deep inside the actuality of life during the Famine era. Some of our pre-conceived ideas of what actually transpired during that appalling era are challenged. Highlighted too is the important role played by the Irish National Famine Museum at Strokestown, now in its twentieth year."

The 224-page paperback (ISBN: 978-1-84682-554-5) is illustrated in colour and is available from Four Courts Press's website for €15.75.

The book will be officially launched on Wednesday 19 November by former Minster and TD Mary O'Rourke in The Library of Strokestown House at 8pm. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.