The Famine Road

by Patrick Bonar

I was recently asked about the location of the famine road in the Ballybofey / Stranorlar area and my immediate thoughts were that there are probably many roads which were built or improved during the famine times. History informs us that during these difficult times, around one million people died and many poor and hungry went to the workhouse. For those who could not get into the workhouses, or wouldn’t go to these degrading establishments, they had to work on new roads and buildings in exchange for food. Most of them were just skin and bones and a lot of them just died along the roadside. Between 1840 and 1870, two hundred and forty thousand families were evicted from their homes and the famine increased their misery.

I believe there was a back road built into the famine graveyard at St Joseph’s Hospital from the golf course road during the famine times and people were forced to work on roads in general. However, the main contender for the Famine Road is the road above Trusk Lough which connects Meenashemmer. Lord Lifford lived close by at Carrickmagrath at that time. Tradition relates how the starving people had to dig the road in exchange for porridge.