Marion Acreman with Stuart and Jeanninne Garrard
The Famine Experience is a poignant look at the lives and experiences of the people who stayed at the Kilkenny Workhouse at MacDonagh Junction during the Great Famine.
In 2005 the remains of over 970 people were discovered at the site and it has been described as the most significant discovery in the world relating to the Irish Famine. Their remains are buried there in Memorial Garden Crypt.
Following the discovery significant research was carried out by anthropologist, Dr Jonny Geber which sheds some light on the lives of those who stayed there..
Stuart Garrard crossed the globe with his wife Jeannine to learn more about his great great great grandmother, Mary Teresa Slattery who spent four years at the workhouse.
Mary entered the workhouse along with her parents, during the Great Famine in 1845. Her parents were dead by 1846, and when Mary was 17, she was sent to Australia with hundreds of other girls. She met and married an English convict William Wicks and they had 12 children, ten of whom survived.
“I have always had an interest in genealogy and I did my research and found out that my great great great grandmother was Mary Slattery who was an orphan girl and who married an English convict, William Wicks.
“It has been very emotional for us doing The Famine Experience knowing that Mary spent time here. It has been very moving,” he said,
Stuart Garrard travelled to Kilkenny from Sydney because of the Kilkenny Famine Experience Project. He watched the launch online as he is the great great great grandson of Mary Teresa Slattery, one of the orphan girls that left the Workhouse under the Earl Grey scheme.
Centre Manager at MacDonagh Junction, Marion Acreman has been in contact with Stuart and his wife and brought them on the tour when they visited.
“His wife then contacted me quietly asking me to suggest a gift she could buy for Stuart with a Kilkenny connection for Christmas 2017. I had two spaces left in the community project and they took a space each, connecting them to two young girls that were found among the victims. I also sent commemorative coins with Stuart’s name engraved and a copy of Jonny Geber’s book
“He got a very emotional surprise on Christmas morning and I got a lovely email thanking me and a promise that they were going to make the long journey to see Kilkenny Workhouse. It was lovely to finally met them and show them around.”