Launch of Treasures of the Strokestown Famine Archive virtual exhibit.

With Dr Jason King of Irish Heritage Trust at the new National Irish Famine Museum at Strokestown Park House

It was a real pleasure to be back in Strokestown Park House on Saturday for a very special event ‘Archive to Arts’ which marked the launch of Treasures of the Strokestown Famine Archive Virtual Exhibit.

Strokestown Park’s collection of records and documents is a real treasure trove with over 50,000 documents and items which will help provide huge information about the parallel lives of tenants of Strokestown and its landowners, the Mahon family during a turbulent and tragic time in Irish history.

As a writer I often spend a huge amount of time researching and using archives so it is great to mark the start of an exciting project which will over time make parts of the collection with its valuable letters, petitions and eviction and emigration lists available digitally to all those with an interest in Strokestown Park House and the Great Irish Famine.

It was also a great opportunity for me to see the redesigned National Famine Museum which only recently reopened after a huge upgrade and tells the Strokestown Story in a hugely immersive way. Set in a bright new airy space with a lovely café it is well worth visiting.

The day was spent discussing the varied aspects of artists using archives to inspire their work, be it in theatre and performance, literature or art or music and how using archives can not only inform us but be a catalyst for something new. Other speakers included Anne -Marie O’Sullivan of Enchanted Croi Theatre, Professor Mark McGowan, Professor Kevin Whelan and singer and writer Declan O’Rourke.

With Anne-Marie O’ Sullivan, Declan O Rourke and Carolin Callery of Strokestown Park House

                    Archives to Arts 

It is a real treat to be invited to return to Strokestown Park House and the National Famine Museum in Roscommon and to take part in  a very special event focused on Archives to Arts and Bringing the Strokestown Archive to life on Saturday 24th September.  

The Museum itself has only recently reopened with a new look after having a wonderful five million euro upgrade during the necessary Covid closedown, with an international panel of Famine experts overseeing the project.

To have an archive of over 50, 000 documents available that provide an insight into the parallel lives of tenants and the landlord is a real treasure for all of us with an interest in the past. As a writer having access to archives is invaluable and plays a huge part in the creation of my work and enriches it often sparking new ideas and stories and books that I simply have to write.

Among the panelists are singer and writer Declan O’Rourke and Anne-Marie O’ Sullivan of Enchanted Croi Theatre and there will be a screening of ‘Treasures of the Strokestown Famine Archive in the National Library’ presented by Professor Mark McGowan.