Paul Strzelecki – Polish Hero Of Irish Famine

Paul Strzelecki – Polish Hero Of Irish Famine

Fota House hosting this travelling event: 15 August – 4 October 2020

Fota House, Arboretum and Gardens will host the exhibition A Forgotten Polish Hero of the Great Irish Famine: Paul Strzelecki’s Struggle to Save Thousands (15 August – 4 October). In partnership with the Irish Heritage Trust, the exhibition was previously hosted at The National Famine Museum at Strokestown Park, Roscommon and after Fota House, will move to Johnstown Castle, Estate, Museum & Gardens (17th October – 29th November).

This exhibition by the Polish Embassy in Dublin explores the fascinating life and achievements of one of the great humanitarians of the 19th century, whose contributions to Irish Famine relief have yet to be widely known and commemorated.  The exhibition is in English and entrance is €3 for adults with no charge for children under 12.

Count Paul (Paweł) Strzelecki, a world-renowned Polish explorer and scientist, volunteered to work in Ireland to combat raging Famine over a three-year period (1847-49) as the main agent of the British Relief Association (B.R.A). Despite suffering from the effects of typhoid fever he contracted in Ireland, Strzelecki dedicated himself tirelessly to hunger relief. His commitment was widely recognized and praised by his contemporaries, and this exhibition endeavours to bring his achievements and legacy back into the public eye.

“The Irish Heritage Trust is delighted to display this exhibition at the National Famine Museum and at our other historic properties during the summer; Fota House & Gardens, Cork and Johnstown Castle Estate, Museum & Gardens, Wexford” said Dr Emma O’Toole, Collections & Interpretation Manager at the Irish Heritage Trust.

The content of the exhibition was commissioned by the Polish Embassy from leading experts in the field – Prof. Peter Gray (Queen’s University Belfast) and Assoc. Prof. Emily Mark-FitzGerald (University College Dublin) – and includes several rarely seen images of Famine relief and charity, drawn from collections of major museums and libraries in Ireland, Britain, Australia and the United States.

In order to alleviate the critical situation of famished Irish families and especially children, Strzelecki developed a visionary and exceptionally effective mode of assistance: feeding starving children directly through the schools. He extended daily food rations to schoolchildren across the most famine-stricken western part of Ireland, while also distributing clothing and promoting basic hygiene. At its peak in 1848, around 200,000 children from all denominations were being fed through the efforts of the B.R.A., many of whom would have otherwise perished from hunger and disease.


Further Information

Fota House is managed by the Irish Heritage Trust, an independent charity, which cares for and brings back to life historic properties, houses and gardens throughout Ireland. 

For press queries, please contact:

Nikola Moroney, Polish Embassy in Dublin, ph.: 087 91 32 086

Charlotte O’Connor, Irish Heritage Trust, 01-874 8030 /

For information on other venues and dates visit