Abandoned Clonmel brothers remembered in famine memorial

Parents emigrated to Australia but left two sons behind

Sian Moloughney


Sian Moloughney



Saul brothers

The new logo of the Kilkenny Famine Experience is inspired by the Clonmel Saul brothers.

Two Clonmel brothers who were left to fend for themselves during the Famine have become the symbol of a new famine memorial.

Brothers Patrick and Thomas Saul were just 15 and 13 when their “heartless” parents left them behind in Ireland and emigrated to Australia in the 1840s.

Their story came to light during preparation of a new famine memorial experience when it was found in the records of the Kilkenny Workhouse. The workhouse record book stated that the family of four had walked from Clonmel to Dublin. However when they reached Dublin the parents boarded a ship bound for Australia and told the boys to return home.

The Saul brothers stopped at the workhouse in Kilkenny for a rest. They stayed for a few days before continuing their journey to Clonmel. The family have recently been traced and their story will form part of the new famine memorial.

The symbol of the memorial will embody the brothers’ bond and their hope for the future.

Kilkenny Workhouse is long gone but the building, in part, remains and forms the heart of the city's MacDonagh Junction shopping centre.

In November a new memorial will be unveiled to those who lived and died in Kilkenny Union Workhouse. 975 bodies were found buried in the grounds of the workhouse when development works began on the shopping centre in 2005 - this has been described as the most significant discovery in the world relating to the Irish Famine.

Dr. Jonny Geber, a biological anthropologist based in New Zealand, has carried out 11 years of in-depth research on the 970 remains found at MacDonagh Junction. This sample was the largest ever to be exhumed and experts were given a unique chance to retrace the footsteps of local people who lived and died during the famine .

Dr. Geber will present his latest research on the famine remains on Tuesday, June 27, at 1pm, in MacDonagh Junction. This is a free event but places must be booked in advance. (see email below)

Those poor souls are now re-interred there and centre manager Marion Acreman’s vision of a memorial to them will come to fruition along with the famine experience.

The Kilkenny Famine experience will be a free, self-guided, audio visual tour that will describe the human story of the Kilkenny famine inmates around the buildings of the former workhouse.

As part of this project, Marion hopes to collect 975 fingerprint images from local people to represent and connect the people of present day Kilkenny to the crypt that houses the human remains at the Famine Memorial Garden at MacDonagh Junction.

The fingerprint images will not have any recording of the participants' names so there is no data or privacy release required in law. They will form part of the memorial artwork.

If you are interested in taking part, or attending Dr Geber's talk, e-mail info@macdonaghjunction.com