Kilkenny Famine Experience | Kilkenny Tourism

Kilkenny Famine Experience


Launching November 2017

MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre,
Hebron Road,

Phone: 056 7777600


MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre located at the top of John Street next to Kilkenny Train station is the site of the former Kilkenny Union Workhouse and of the discovery of over 970 human remains in 2005 which were undocumented.

These people date from 1845 – 1852 and represent a cross section of Kilkenny inhabitants that befell starvation and disease as a consequence of the Great Famine. As the local graveyards filled the decision was taken to bury them within the grounds of the workhouse. This burial ground was then covered over by a thick layer of soil and later used as the workhouse garden.

In 2005 the remains were discovered whilst the site was being carefully prepared for the development of the Centre and they were removed under expert supervision and brought to the National Museum of Ireland. They were examined in detail by experts from around the world and this research offered never seen before insights into the living conditions and cause of death for famine population in Ireland. This has been described as the most significant discovery in the World relating to the Irish Famine. They were returned to in 2010 and respectfully reinterred in the Kilkenny Famine Memorial Garden at MacDonagh Junction. 

In early November 2017 MacDonagh Junction will launch the Kilkenny Famine Experience, a free, self-guided, audio visual tour that will recall the human story of the Kilkenny famine inmates around the buildings of the former famine Workhouse (now Workhouse Square, MacDonagh Junction). Visit Workhouse Square to see the old structure merged with modern award winning architecture, visit the memorial garden at Goods Shed Square, see the crypt and beautiful bronze sculpture depicting John and Patrick Saul, two young boys that stayed in the workhouse in 1842. View the restored storage buildings of the MacDonagh train station which are also on the site. 

View the 975 fingerprint etchings gathered as part of a community involvement project which connected modern day Kilkenny back to the people who were buried without names. Learn about Kilkenny and Ireland in the 1840s and give thought to those that perished as well as those that survived.

T’s and C’s

This attraction is free and subsidised by MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre but requires a security deposit for device hire of €20 (fully refundable)

Booking is not essential but group bookings are advised by emailing

Visitors without booking cannot be guaranteed tour availability but will be accommodated as soon as possible.

Tour operating times:

Monday to Friday: 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 5pm
Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays: 12pm -  4pm

Maximum numbers on each tour: 20
Tour duration: 50 minutes