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The vast house was built by Thomas Mahon MP (1701-1782) on lands which had been granted to his grandfather, Nicholas, in the latter half of the 17th century for his support in the British colonial campaign.
It was the family home of the Mahon family until 1979 when the house, in an advanced state of disrepair, along with what remained of the estate, was purchased by a local company, Westward Garage, who needed some extra land to expand their business.
However, when they spent some time in the house and saw what was there, they decided that Strokestown Park was far too important from a heritage point of view to risk losing it.
They negotiated a deal with the Mahon family to ensure that virtually all of the original furnishings would remain at Strokestown Park.
They also pleaded with the family to leave behind the documents that remained in the estate office.
By doing so they had ensured the salvation of a huge part of the heritage of County Roscommon.
The first public role for the house was when it was used for the making of the film ‘Anne Devlin’, based on the 1798 Rising in 1984.
What then followed was a restoration project of such enthusiasm and energy that it was to be acknowledged as the single best private restoration in the history of the state.
The house was opened to the public in 1987 and is unique in that it affords visitors the opportunity to browse through the public rooms on professionally guided tours, surrounded by the original furnishings of the house.
The House is unchanged from the time when the Mahons lived there, as evidenced by photographs which can be seen in the house.
The Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, Strokestown, Co.
Roscommon, Ireland is twinned with Grosse Ile and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site, Grosse Ile, Quebec, Canada.
Over 5,500 Irish people who emigrated during the famine years are buried in mass graves at Grosse Ile.
The Museum also has a strong educational focus and seeks to create a greater awareness of the horrors of contemporary famine by demonstrating the link between the causes of the Great Irish Famine of the 1840’s and the ongoing spectacle of famine in the developing world today.
The Famine Museum was opened in 1994 by the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.
Today it stands as a tribute to the generosity and perception of the Westward Group that saw fit to place the importance of history over their commercial needs.