Date for the diary: Famine Walk 2018

Remembering and Solidarity

Saturday 19th May, Doolough Co. Mayo

Registration from 12.45pm in Louisburgh Town hall

Beginning at 1.30pm

Walk Leaders: Richard Moore, Fatin al Tamimi

Music: Lisa Lambe

Famine Walk 1988-2018

Register online here (alternatively you can raise sponsorship for Afri – just bring this to the registration desk on the day) and see who’s going on Facebook

Download the brochure or the sponsorship form

Saturday 19th May 2018 will see the 30th anniversary of the Doolough Famine Walk. Afri first organised the walk in 1988 to commemorate the Great Hunger of 1845-50. Regions such as Mayo illustrated how a natural setback such as potato blight can mutate to disaster in the context of unchecked market forces, lack of democratic structures and resources, and a pitiless, moralistic ideology. While some £9.5 million was eventually spent on late and poorly-designed ‘Relief’, £14 million went to sustain the military and police forces.

Our walk retraces a journey of horror which occurred on 30th/31st March 1849. Two poor-law commissioners were to assess people in Louisburgh, entitling them as ‘paupers’ to meagre relief rations. The inspection never happened, but the people were instructed to appear at Delphi Lodge at 7 the following morning. They walked the hilly road in wintry, even snowy, conditions. At Delphi Lodge they were refused food, or admission to the workhouse, and so began their weary return journey, on which many, even hundreds, died.

Afri, drawing on the local history of Louisburgh and Doolough, recalls the dead and displaced of the Great Hunger – and all those facing the same grotesque and avoidable cruelties in today’s world, from the so-called ‘War on Terror’ to the indignities of ‘Direct Provision’. We walk the famine road to remember the causes of hunger and poverty in our world – political, military, economic and environmental – and our failure to learn the lessons of our own history. Our Walk Leaders eloquently represent the spirit of resistance and transformation:  

In the twentieth-anniversary year of the Good Friday Agreement we welcome Richard Moore, who was blinded as a 10-year-old child by a rubber bullet fired by a British soldier during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. He reacted by founding Children in Crossfire, declaring: “I learned to see life in a different way. I may have lost my sight, but I have my vision”.

2018 is also significant in that it marks the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, and in this context, we are honoured to welcome Fatin Al Tamimi, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The extraordinary voice of Lisa Lambe will provide the music for this year’s walk. We are delighted to have Lisa as part of this year’s walk line up.

Register online here (alternatively you can raise sponsorship to help Afri continue our work – just bring this to the registration desk on the day) and see who’s going on Facebook

Read an article about the Famine Walk and BBC Radio 4 Ramblings Show.

Find out about our ‘Music From A Dark Lake’ CD, a compilation of songs from past Famine Walks.

 

Famine Walk in I.T. Carlow

Date for your diary – Féile Bríde 2018

Féile Bríde 2018: Light out of Darkness

Saturday 3rd February 2018

Solas Bhríde, Kildare Town

Registration at 10.20am

Book online here

or download a booking form and return by post

Life has given me many challenges, which I choose to take as opportunities to learn and grow. This is my choice. I learned this on death row. I chose life, health, forgiveness, and love. That choice saved me from bitterness and hatred that would have destroyed me from within. I have dedicated myself to an end to violence – in all its forms. This is the way I honour the lives that were sacrificed along the way. This is the way I give back to the universe. Love is the answer. Fear is the enemy. We must choose the world we want and work towards making it happen every day in our own lives.”

These are the inspiring words of death row survivor, Sunny Jacobs, whose life reads like a Shakespearean tragedy, with injustice heaped upon further injustice, creating circumstances that would have crushed many people.  An innocent woman wrongfully convicted of murder, her husband was executed, she lost other family members and she spent many years awaiting her own execution.  But Sunny came shining through it all with dignity, strength, courage, compassion and hope. She is the perfectly encapsulation of this year’s Féile Bríde’s theme:  ‘light out of darkness’.

Sunny and Peter Pringle, the last person to have been on death row in Ireland, have devoted themselves to promoting healing, peace and reconciliation.  Together they have established The Sunny Centre – a sanctuary for others who suffer injustice, especially people who are wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit and have spent time under sentence of death.  We will hear their extraordinary stories at Féile Bríde this year.

Other speakers include the distinguished academic and activist Peadar Kirby, who plays a leading role in the Cloughjordan Eco-Village; UCC Professor Emeritus and life-long peace activist John Maguire; Hanny Van Geel of La Via Campesina, which promotes the rights of peasant communities around the world, and who describes herself as ‘rooted in farming’; and Rose Hogan who has a life-long commitment to agro-ecology and sustainable agriculture.

In a world marred by war and the woeful destruction of our exquisite planet, Féile Bríde is but one example of the many, many people and groups throughout our world who hope for and work towards a better future, a more just world and for the light to overcome the darkness. 

And as the Spring birdsong heralds the end of another winter, we will also have music because, as Hans Christian Anderson said, “where words fail, music speaks”. 

Clár

10.20am          Registration

10.45am          Fáilte, Solas agus Ceol: welcome, light & music

11.00pm          Caring for our Global VillagePeadar Kirby

12.00pm          Food for Life Hanny Van Geel & Rose Hogan               

1.00pm            Lunch and tree planting

2.00pm            Peace Meal ChangeJohn Maguire

2.50pm            Tea break

3.05pm            Music

3.15pm            Light out of Darkness

                                    Sunny’s story

                                    Peter’s story

                                    The Sunny Centre

4.45pm            Music

5pm                 Conclude

 

Féile Bríde 2018 brochure.

To book tickets online go here or download the booking form and return by post

To see who’s going on facebook go here.

Afri’s Féile Bríde conference is part of a week long events being held in Kildare organised by the Brigidine Sisters and Cairde Bríde.  For information about the other events that week visit the Solas Bhríde website or download their programme Feile Bride Programme.

Reflections from the Hedge School

Reflections by Joe Murray, Afri’s co-ordinator

Every now and then, life throws up some extraordinary surprises!

Such a moment occurred during Afri’s annual Hedge School in IT Blancharstown in November in the context of Michael Doorly’s explanation of the origins of Concern. Concern was founded in response to the Biafran War, following a series of meetings in the kitchen of John and Kay O’ Loughlin Kennedy. The new organisation’s first act was to send three ships loaded with food to the beleaguered people, caught up in the war and the poverty and hunger, which it exacerbated. When Michael had finished his presentation, Philip Uzomo stood up and identified himself as a survivor of the Biafran war and said that he’d been a recipient of the food sent on those very ships!

From left to right: Michael Doorly (Concern, Joe Murray (Afri) and Claire Devlin (Christian Aid). Photo: RoJ Whelan

(more…)

Just A Second! Teacher Training, 26th February 2018

Just A Second! Teacher Training for Secondary School Teachers

Monday 26th February 2018, 11am-3pm in the Irish Writer’s Centre, 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1

Afri’s annual teacher training for secondary school teachers takes place in February 2018. The training is an energetic, creative and informative experience, demonstrating effective ways of bringing global issues into the classroom.  The training is led by global education expert Gráinne O’Neill together with Pete Mullineaux, a leader in the field of combining drama and global education, and author of Just A Second! Exploring Global Issues Through Drama and Theatre.

I enjoyed the workshop very much. What was most valuable to me was demonstrating how necessary participative methodologies are in teaching Dev Ed (global education). This is something that I haven’t really explored before and it will be very useful to me in the future.” – Participant in the 2017 Afri Teacher training workshop.

This year’s training takes place in the Writer’s Museum, Parnell Square in the heart of the city on February 26th 2018. Teacher substitution cover is available – be sure to book early to ensure a place on this important training event.   Contact Afri at admin@afri.ie or 01 8827563. 

Afri Hedge School 2017

Afri Hedge School 2017
The Right to Food and Shelter

Tuesday 7th November, 9.45am- 3.30pm
Room A47, I.T. Blanchardstown

The 2017 Hedge School will look at some of the causes of hunger, homelessness and displacement. Organised in partnership with third year students from the Community and Youth Development course in I.T. Blanchardstown.

Free entry to all – donations welcome to cover costs. Lunch, and tea/coffee is provided.

You can book on Eventbrite by going here

Ramblings and the 2017 Famine Walk

Afri Famine Walk 2017, Doolough, County Mayo. Photo by Derek Speirs

Sometimes you really do count your blessings.  There I was, in November 2016, setting out from Louisburgh Co. Mayo on a cold wet autumn morning, wondering whether my right leg, mildly strained in a recent tennis match, would manage the eleven-mile famine walk to Doolough.

How trivial an ‘injury’ in the context of the 1849 tragedy the walk commemorates.  Hundreds of starving men, women and children, ordered to tramp those eleven miles to Delphi Lodge, were denied an audience, let alone the relief they sought, by the men of power.  Many died by the roadside on their despairing return trail.

Afri’s Famine Walk happens each May, but this was a re-enactment for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Ramblings’ series.  Local historian Mary O’Malley painted a poignant scene around her own family story, and Joe Murray set the context of Afri’s work for justice, human rights and sustainability. 

Yours truly was to handle ‘the broader history’; thank goodness for Cork University Press’s superb Atlas of the Great Irish Famine!  Its unique blend of scholarly analysis and humane reflection dispelled some of my clouds of ignorance about that great lacuna in our history and culture.

The Atlas breaks the twin silences of the survivors and the scholars, whilst respecting the irrevocable silence of the over one million victims.  It allowed me to sketch some of the broader background to Doolough’s tragedy, along with some nuggets of salutary and surprising information.

Things I never knew: fish and seafood did form part of the pre-Famine fare of those who could obtain them.  Ireland’s potato-based diet, though fatally precarious, made the pre-Famine population healthier than the European average.

By the Nineteenth Century almost all major Irish towns were ports.  Westport had nearly half its population in manufacture in 1821 – but in cottage and artisan production which soon drowned in the tide of new imported factory commodities.  (more…)

Short film about the 2017 Afri Famine Walk in Mayo

For 30 years Afri has walked the famine road through the Doolough Valley in County Mayo. It is a walk like no other, abounding in memory, music, history, solidarity and spectacular beauty; retracing the steps of the dispossessed of the past and forging solidarity with the banished and oppressed of today.

The 2017 walk linked the experience of Irish people fleeing on coffin ships or being condemned to workhouses during An Gorta Mór in the nineteenth century with those crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy, rickety boats today, some of whom, if they survive, may end up in Direct Provision Centres for asylum seekers in Ireland.

A short film of the walk was made by RoJ (see above)

Creating Alternative Food Futures

A short film made by RoJ about the Food Sovereignty event held in NUI Maynooth in April.

“Seeking asylum is by no means criminal”

Donnah Vuma speaks at the beginning of the 2017 Afri Famine Walk. Photo Derek Speirs

“I feel humbled and yet honoured to be here today.  I have found it a challenge to say a few words, I actually wanted to say no without giving this a thought, but remembered those that have walked this path before, the people that sacrificed their lives to seek relief for the masses of their village, they did not second guess themselves they took the challenge with swiftness, in the worst of weather and on empty stomachs with nothing but the will to survive.

Thank you to Action from Ireland (Afri) for finding a way of awakening the world at large, to spare time and resources to commemorate this event. In whatever part of the world we may be, we need to remember those that are treated with injustice and inequality for the sake of their political opinions, religion, race and gender. We also need to remember the thousands of families — including infants and the elderly fleeing war and violence in Syria who have to walk more than 1,400 miles to get to Serbia’s border with Hungary in hope of finding peace and a future. Above all, we need to remember those that sacrificed their lives fleeing on coffin ships or those who were condemned to workhouses during the great Irish Famine (An Gorta Mór). (more…)

Reflections from the 30th annual Famine Walk

Reflections on the 30th Famine Walk from Rob Fairmichael

‘Music from A Dark Lake’ – CD of music from the Doolough Famine Walk available to buy from Afri now! Buy online at www.afri.ie/donate or contact us directly

On 20th May 2017 a couple of hundred people set out  on the 11 mile walk from Doolough/Delphi Lodge for Louisburgh in bright, early summer weather, and it remained dry and bright. They had earlier heard Joe Murray, Danny Cusack and Donnah Vuma speak, and Joe Black sing. The theme, of this the 30th annual walk, was not just the commemoration involved in the Famine Walk but the inhumanity of the Direct Provision system for asylum seekers in Ireland today which treats people not as human beings but as numbers. A tree was planted in Delphi Lodge which again welcomed walkers, a stunning contrast to 1849. These are The Facts.

But what about The Feelings? Every walker has their own feelings, their own reason for undertaking this 11 mile walk.  Remembrance and commemoration are the principal reasons and some people would fast during the walk as an act of solidarity. There is also the challenge of a long walk, and if people are not able then a shuttle car takes them onward. There is beautiful scenery, interesting conversation – on the theme or everything else under the sun – and interaction with others. Those who stay in Louisburgh for the evening enjoy ceol, ól agus craic. But for most being there is also a physical statement of their commitment to justice and peace in the world today. (more…)

Famine Walk 2017: From Hunger and War…to a Home and a Welcome?

‘Bog Cotton’ by Choctaw artist Waylon (Gary) White Deer. The painting, among other things, features the Workhouse and the Direct Provision Centre.

From Hunger and War…to a Home and a Welcome?

Saturday 20th May, Doolough Co. Mayo

Registration from 12.45pm in Louisburgh Town hall

Beginning at 1.30pm

Walk Leaders: Donnah Vuma, Abjata Khalif, Danny Cusack

Music: Joe Black

***Register online here***

See also 2017 Famine Walk brochure

For 30 years Afri has walked the famine road through the Doolough Valley in County Mayo. It is a walk like no other, abounding in memory, music, history, solidarity and spectacular beauty; retracing the steps of the dispossessed of the past and forging solidarity with the banished and oppressed of today. 

Extraordinary people have walked this road over three decades and extraordinary stories have been told: stories of food and famine; of oppression and denial of human rights; of wars, violence and the impact of climate change; but also stories of courage and determination; of inspiration, illumination and motivation. And music, song and theatre from some of our greatest artists have been integral parts of every walk. (more…)

Creating Alternative Food Futures: Food Sovereignty in Ireland and Beyond

Venue: Maynooth University

Date: April 13th 2017

Time: 10am to 3.30pm

Please confirm attendance by emailing foodsovmaynooth@gmail.com

April 17 is the International Day of Peasant Struggle – a day to recognize and acknowledge the difficulties faced by diverse food producers amidst a world in which one-tenth of humanity experiences hunger. There is no better time of the year to discuss and debate how we can create alternative food futures in Ireland and beyond. Whether by adopting food sovereignty or some other framework, at issue is finding ways for urban and rural dwellers, peasants, landless people, small-scale farmers, and coastal communities to work on mechanisms that can nourish and empower food producers and consumers like never before. The task to is identify and raise the profile of projects and practices that might build a sustainable, democratic, and just food system. During this one-day event held at Maynooth University, we invite attendees to contribute and share their experiences about creating alternative food futures. (more…)

Reflections from Féile Bríde 2017: Darkness to Light

Speakers U.S. peace activist Kathy Kelly (second from right) and Scottish author and campaigner Alastair McIntosh (right) together with Afri Co-ordinator Joe Murray and Brigidine sister Rita Minehan at the 2017 Féile Bríde conference in Kildare on Saturday 4th February 2017. Photo: Dave Donnellan

When we look at the many problems confronting our world, we can sometimes think that things are worse than ever and that little progress has been made towards creating a more just and compassionate world.  But it is important that we keep in mind the progress made, as well as the challenges that continue to face us.

When we held our first Féile Bríde in 1988, apartheid was still in place in South Africa, the conflict in the North of Ireland was still raging with nightly reports of deaths and injuries and East Timor was under the jack boot of Indonesian occupation.   (more…)

The Hungry Grass

Students from Beneavin De La Salle College, Finglas Dublin are given a tour of the Dunshaughlin Famine Graveyard and Workhouse and are told harrowing stories of the poorest people from days gone by. Afterwards they are honoured by Kathy Kelly who shares her amazing experiences fighting for justice and peace. Pete Mullineaux then holds a conscious workshop where the students are asked to demonstrate all the good things the world has to offer.

Funded by WorldWise Global Schools

Date for your diary: 30th Afri Famine Walk

Donncha O Dulaing (centre) leads the first Famine Walk in 1988

Thirty years on the ‘Famine Road’ have generated many memorable moments and iconic images.  On the first walk in 1988, walk leader Donncha O Dulaing arrived by helicopter to join Niall O’Brien, recently released from prison in the Philippines, and Mayo woman Caitriona Ruane, recently  returned from  Central America, before leading us off  on the first ‘chapter’ of this extraordinary journey.

The following year, Brian Willson, having lost both legs while attempting to stop a train delivering arms from the US to Central America, was applauded as he bravely crossed the finishing line.

Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah were almost blown away with the force of the gale that blew up when they led the walk in 1991.  It helped us all to understand a little better how it would’ve been for the hungry poor of 1849.

The voices of Juana Vasquez and Dario Caal, representing the Maya from Guatemala, echoed off the mountains as they spoke at the edge of Doolough about the importance of solidarity and how they believed they were walking with the spirits of our ancestors through the sacred Doolough valley in 1995.

And then the gates of Delphi Lodge were opened to the walk in 2013.  We walked through the gates solemnly carrying the names of those who had died in the tragedy of 1849 and the names of those who died of hunger in our own day, in our world of plenty.  We planted an oak tree, we planted potatoes supplied by Willie Corduff of Rossport and we listened to the deeply emotional rendition of ‘Connacht Orphan’ sung by its author, Declan O’Rourke.

Join us for the 30th Walk on May 20th 2017 where more extraordinary moments are sure to be generated.

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Afri’s annual Doolough Famine Walk was featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Ramblings’ show and was selected as BBC Radio 4’s ‘Pick of the Week’ on Sunday 19th February.  Listen to the show here.

To register online go here or check out our facebook event page.  If you  are planning on doing the Famine Walk please contact the Afri office for a sponsorship card – admin@afri.ie or 01 8827563.

 

General Information

  • Please assemble in Louisburgh for registration at 12.45pm. 
  • There will be an approximately 15 min opening ceremony, including speakers and music – this is a very important part of the Famine Walk and we would encourage all participants to be present for this part of the event.
  • Buses will bring walkers to start point from 1.30pm. 
  • A tree will be planted at the start of the walk at the Famine Memorial in Delphi Lodge before walkers return to Louisburgh. 
  • There is no parking available at Delphi Lodge. 
  • The walk is approximately 11 miles (18 km) and a shuttle car will be available along the route if needed.
  • Comfortable shoes, raingear and water are strongly recommended.
  • Tea/coffee (but not food) will be provided at a halfway point along the way.  There will also be toilet facilities at the halfway point as well as along the lake.
  • IN THE INTEREST OF HEALTH AND SAFETY, PLEASE WALK ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE ROAD FOR THE DURATION OF THE WALK.

Sponsorship

We are asking participants to consider raising sponsorship for Afri, so that we can continue our important work.  If you would like to do so, please get in touch with the Afri office and we will post you out a sponsorship card.  If you would prefer not to raise sponsorship you can register online here or pay €24 on the day – which includes the registration fee and cost of the bus to the start of the walk.

White Silence Equals Violence

Peace Activist Kathy Kelly (left) with Nuria Mustafa (Centre) and Jack Hynes (right) at Afri’s 2003 Famine Walk in Mayo.

 

White Silence Equals Violence: Awaiting a Verdict
by Kathy Kelly

January 25, 2017

This morning, here in Minneapolis, I’ll learn whether six jurors believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Dan Wilson and I are criminals.  The court case stems from an action protesting the execution of Jamar Clark, age 24, who died in the early morning of November 15, 2015 outside a north Minneapolis apartment complex. Two Minneapolis police officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, were involved in the shooting. Jamar Clark died after a bullet was fired directly into his head. Several witnesses say that he was handcuffed and motionless when he was shot dead. The police officers have been cleared of all charges and are back on the job.

Dan and I are among 25 defendants charged with obstructing a Minneapolis Metro transit vehicle on April 11, the opening day of the Minnesota Twins baseball season.  The Legal Rights Center lawyers working with us arranged a calendar so that small groups would be tried weekly.  Earlier this month, two people were acquitted of all charges and one person has been convicted. Two days ago, Andrew Gordon and Priyanka Premo, lawyers from the Minneapolis Legal Rights Center who are representing Dan and me, began the jury selection process. Yesterday, evidence was presented and the six-person jury was asked to determine a verdict. The jury didn’t arrive at a verdict last night. We felt grateful they are not rushing to judgement on what many would see as a cut and dry case. The prosecution presented, as evidence, a photo of me standing, arms linked with others, in front of a bus. (more…)

Date for your diary – Féile Bríde 2017

Drawing by Audrey Walsh

Among the issues to be explored at this year’s conference will be forced migration – the inevitable consequence of war and climate change.

Speakers will include distinguished peace activist and author Kathy Kelly and Scottish writer and campaigner Alastair McIntosh.  Find out more in our brochure.

To book tickets online go here or download the booking form and send to Afri by post.

To see who’s going on facebook go here.  

Reflections from the Hedge School

ITB students speaking at the Hedge School

ITB students speaking at the Hedge School

The 2016 Hedge School took place in Blanchardstown on November 8th, the same day as the US presidential election.  To our surprise, the latter event seemed to overshadow the former! However, we are confident that the outcome of the Hedge School will be much more positive and beneficial to people and planet than that of the election! The election was a contest between two corrupt multi millionaires supported by arms companies and oil companies while the Hedge School was organized on a shoe string and with the good will of many people.

Sorcha Pollak opened proceedings with a powerful talk on Roger Casement. Casement was a great humanitarian and internationalist, who, having carried out an investigation into atrocities on Belgium rubber plantations in the Congo, was sent by the British government to the Amazon jungle to investigate atrocities committed by the Peruvian Amazon Company, which collected rubber in the region of the river Putumayo. Casement was executed four years later for his participation in the 1916 Rising.

John Maguire further explored Casement’s work in the context of his deepening awareness of the evils of Empire and of its implications for his beloved country and characterised him as an ideal symbol for today. 

Other speakers included Kay Mulhall and, the highlight of the day, Miriam, a former asylum-seeker from Uganda.  Miriam spoke about the gruelling circumstances of her life in Uganda before being forced to leave her country and seek refuge in Ireland. In Ireland she experienced the Direct Provision system which poured salt in the wounds of her previous suffering.

The students made a tremendous contribution to the day in terms of both organisation, and input. They interwove  workshops, music and the writing of a Proclamation into the fabric of the day. Special thanks to Liam McGlynn whose support, collaboration and enthusiasm adds to the very positive experience of working in ITB.

Hedge School 2016

hedge-school-poster-2016In our history, Hedge Schools were places of learning, continuity and resistance, emerging out of the draconian Penal Laws that forbade formal education to most Irish people. Learning about and resisting the causes of poverty is at the heart of Afri’s work and the Hedge School symbolizes the kind of resilience and creativity needed to address the crisis facing our world as a result of climate change and the obscenity of the war industry.

One of the major consequences of war and climate change is forced migration and what has become known as the ‘refugee crisis’. The 2016 Hedge School will explore this theme and will include input on Roger Casement, the great internationalist, humanitarian and executed 1916 leader as well as provide an opportunity to hear from refugees & asylum seekers in Ireland.

This year’s Hedge School is organised in partnership with the students from I.T. Blanchardstown.

To register for the conference, please email admin@afri.ie.