Excavation of the Famine Road in Boho, Co. Fermanagh

Press/Media: Research


The one-week community excavation attracted local media attention and also featured in the BBC2 Digging for Britain tv programme and in a podcast for the Stokestown Famine Museum.

Period26 Aug 2021 → 28 Sept 2022

Media coverage


Media coverage

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleMapping Famine Roads - Irish Heritage Trust
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media name/outletNational Famine Museum, Strokestown Park, Co. Roscommon
    Media typeWeb
    DescriptionMapping Famine Roads (33:35) explores some of the most desolate and yet beautiful settings where these roads were built on the island of Ireland in the 1840s. The creation of Famine Roads as ostensible relief projects at the height of the Great Hunger in 1847 remains one of its most contentious legacies in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. These so-called ‘roads to nowhere’ are often bitterly remembered as misguided public works that exposed hunger-stricken labourers to inclement weather in desolate settings for a mere pittance to survive. Yet these bleak reminders of the Great Hunger also tend to traverse some of the most scenic landscapes and areas of outstanding natural beauty in Ireland, North and South, although they are usually difficult to find. This film brings you on a journey to some of the most remarkable ones.
    Our guides Professor Eileen Murphy and Dr Colm Donnelly from Queens’ University Belfast have recently led a community archaeology project to excavate the Famine Road in Boho, County Fermanagh (https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1bXY..., which serves now as a monument to the events of 175 years ago when it was created. Mike Murphy from University College Cork explores the cultural significance and topographical features of Famine Roads in Glenville (https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1pkD...) and the Healy Pass in County Cork (https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1597.... The Killary Harbour Famine Road in County Galway (https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1ZVs..., Coolorta Famine Road in the Burren National Park (https://earth.google.com/earth/d/1auN...) in County Clare, and Slieve Gullion Famine Wall in County Armagh are all located in especially scenic surroundings. Each of these Famine Roads and walls can be visited with the aid of newly created maps in the film and in the standalone virtual resources above.
    Mapping Famine Roads is hosted by the National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park and Irish Heritage Trust with funding from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media under the Cooperation with Northern Ireland Funding Scheme 2022. This film was made in collaboration with Professor Eileen Murphy and Dr Colm Donnelly from the School of Natural & Built Environment and Centre for Community Archaeology at Queen's University Belfast, and Michael Murphy from the Department of Geography at University College Cork. It also features Phoebe Larkin from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Anthony Russell, and Caroilin Callery from the Irish Heritage Trust. Sean McLaughlin kindly allowed the community archaeological excavation of the Boho Famine Road to take place on his land in County Fermanagh. Drone footage of Boho Famine Road was taken by Ryan Montgomery of Queen's University Belfast.
    PersonsEileen Murphy, Colm Donnelly
  • TitleBBC 2 Digging for Britain - Episode 6, Series 9
    Degree of recognitionInternational
    Media typeTelevision
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionEpisode 6
    Digging for Britain Series 9 Episode 6 of 6

    The north of England is so rich in archaeological finds that Alice Roberts is travelling back there once again to reveal more of its fascinating history.

    She starts this journey at that most spectacular of Roman monuments, Hadrian’s Wall. Alice is on site to witness a new dig at the famous Birdoswald Fort, once home to around 800 Roman infantrymen. She joins a team from Newcastle University as they uncover a completely new building, alluded to in the 1930s but never fully excavated until now.

    Next, we travel further north to learn more about the so-called barbarians that the Romans were so worried about. The dig is on the shores of the Moray Firth, where archaeologists are uncovering a fort which once belonged to the Picts. A wealth of new evidence suggests that far from being barbaric savages, they were a sophisticated people who were perhaps far more educated than anyone has given them credit for.

    Alice also visits the town of Rochdale in Lancashire, just ten miles outside Manchester, where a huge community dig is altering our understanding of the Industrial Revolution. Alice meets local families who are digging beneath the spectacular Gothic town hall to uncover the remains of terraces and tenement blocks that housed the working men and women of Rochdale, shedding new light on the way industrialisation changed our towns and cities.

    In Northern Ireland, another community dig highlights a particularly dark period of recent history, the Great Famine of the mid-19th century. For the first time in Northern Ireland, a team are excavating one of the island of Ireland’s many famine roads. These were roads built by the starving population. Often going nowhere, they were part of a misguided attempt by the British government to boost Irish infrastructure and support the hungry by forcing them to build roads in exchange for money to buy food. Historian Onyeka Nubia travels to London to search for evidence that might explain the British government’s reasoning for what turned out to be a futile relief effort.

    Back in Scotland, a new tramline being built from Edinburgh to Leith gives archaeologists the opportunity to study and preserve hundreds of skeletons unearthed at a graveyard dating back to 1300. This dig throws new light on the residents of Leith as they lived through 500 years of Scotland’s history. In the Digging for Britain tent, archaeologist John Lawson brings in one skeleton with a unique set of injuries, and an incredible facial reconstruction brings her vividly to life.

    Finally, a once-in-a-lifetime find under a golf course sets archaeological pulses racing as a Bronze Age wooden coffin is remarkably preserved in the waterlogged soil 3,000 years after it was buried.

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    59 minutes
    PersonsEileen Murphy