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.

Let there be (Solar) Light…

sunrise

Sunrise in Kenya

 

Give a gift of light to a Kenyan family this Christmas…

 

Children, families and midwives in Northern Kenya will benefit from your gift of a solar light…

 

Your Solar light gift will:

Improve health…by avoiding use of toxic kerosene;

Reduce poverty…by reducing cost of energy;

Increase income…by enabling people who do not have electricity to work after darkness;

Reduce global warming…by replacing use of fossil fuels

 

€15    buys one solar light for a midwife

€30    buys one solar light for a midwife and one for a family to enable children to study in the evenings 

€60    buys four solar lights which will benefit midwives, families, schoolchildren and the wider community.  Families can use solar lights to enable them to work after dark, to supplement their income.

 

When you buy your light(s) we will send you a gift card which you can retain or pass on to your chosen recipient.

 

Will you give a gift that brings light and hope this Christmas?

 

Let’s show that after all there IS something new under the sun….

 

How to purchase your gift:

 

You can buy your gift in the following ways – you can pay online using our i-donate system – http://www.afri.ie/donate/

 

Alternatively, post a cheque/postal order made payable to “Afri” to 134 Phibsborough Road, Dublin 7.

 

If you would prefer to pay by bank transfer please phone us for details.

 

In order to post out your gift card please include your name and address when you are buying your gift.

 

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Anti-War Activism in the Trump Era

Colm Roddy (left) and Dave Donnellan

Colm Roddy (left) and Dave Donnellan

Anti-War Activism in the Trump Era
Tuesday 15th November, 7.30pm
The Teachers’ Club, Dublin 1

Public Meeting in Solidarity with War Resisters.  Now the U.S. has chosen its new Commander-in-Chief…….. we gather to remember its victims and support our resisters!

Speakers:
– Dave Donnellan & Colm Roddy awaiting trial for anti-war resistance at Shannon Airport.
– Harry Browne on “What can we Expect from the New U.S. President?”
– Ciaron O’Reilly on the late Dan Berrigan, imprisoned Chelsea Manning and pursued Julian Assange.

Music:
“The Chelsea Manning Support Band” Joe Black, Robbie Synnot & RoJ Whelan

Entry free – donation to cover costs of staging the event.

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.  

Samhain Harvest and ‘Growing Within’ Event scheduled for Falcarragh

Choctaw heirloom squash grown at Glenveagh National Park this summer to be shared at the Samhain Harvest: Food, Famine and Growing Within Seminar in Falcarragh, Co. Donegal.

Choctaw heirloom squash grown at Glenveagh National Park this summer to be shared at the Samhain Harvest: Food, Famine and Growing Within Seminar in Falcarragh, Co. Donegal.

There is an emotional condition that most of Ireland doesn’t know it’s being affected by, experts are saying. Malignant shame, or post colonial stress disorder is ever present in Irish society today. “It’s important to keep in mind that we are only beginning to understand inter-generational trauma. This type of trauma is often unknown or unrecognised by those who endure it” says Maeve Peoples, a Dublin psychotherapist. Increasing evidence is showing that the untreated effects of holocaust are passed on to future generations.

“By looking at inter-generational trauma in societies as diverse as third generation Jewish holocaust survivors and aboriginal tribes people in Australia, we now know that recovery is possible. From these studies we learn to find the source of issues as diverse as food addiction, eating disorders, increased levels of suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction to name but a few. Identifying the source of the problem allows us to begin to address it” Peoples added.

“I first became familiar with the idea of inter-generational trauma when I was living in America” says Waylon White Deer, a seminar organiser. “There are many similarities between First Nations peoples in America and Irish society as a result of historic emotional damage. This Saturday, we will explore some of these issues”

Maeve Peoples will be leading a discussion about Famine trauma at “Samhain Harvest: Food, Famine and Growing Within” organised by the Afri Choctaw-Irish Famine Landscape Project. The seminar is sponsored by Action from Ireland (Afri) and Concern Worldwide and begins Saturday at 11:00 AM in The Yard, Falcarragh. The afternoon session will highlight food sovereignty, security and solidarity. Admission is free and the seminar will end with a Samhain celebration.

Unique presentation of Radio Play ‘Fionnuala’

Donal O'Kelly performs 'Fionnuala'

Donal O’Kelly performs ‘Fionnuala’

Afri is delighted that Donal O’Kelly’s radio adaptation of his award-winning show Fionnuala, produced by the Norwegian state broadcaster NRK in Norwegian, made the shortlist of five for the famous Prix Italia in Radio Drama, whittled down from an original 35 productions.

Next week, Fionnuala competes as NRK’s nominated entry in the Radio Fiction category at the Prix Europa in Berlin with results to be announced on Friday 21st October.

On that night, October 21st, the production will be played, with dialogue in English projected on a screen, in Glenamoy Parish Hall, Erris Co. Mayo starting at 8pm sharp, duration one hour. Doors 7.30pm.

Afri is proud to host this event in Glenamoy Hall, where the first reading of Fionnuala took place during the Afri Hedge School in August 2012. News from Berlin will be communicated as it happens and refreshments will be provided.

Donal O’Kelly’s live solo show about the Shell/Statoil gas project in Mayo won a Scotsman Fringe First award in Edinburgh, and has been performed all over Ireland, as well as Edinburgh, Geneva, Oslo and Rapid City, South Dakota.

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Walking With Spirit

Famine walk leader, Linda Ervine, right, holding the Afri banner crossing over the Peace Bridge in Derry with the Guildhall in the background. Nuala Crilly of St Columb's Park House is holding the banner on the left.  Photo: Rob Fairmichael

Famine walk leader, Linda Ervine, right, holding the Afri banner crossing over the Peace Bridge in Derry with the Guildhall in the background. Nuala Crilly of St Columb’s Park House is holding the banner on the left. Photo: Rob Fairmichael

A small but enthusiastic crowd gathered on the Guildhall steps in Derry on a wet weekday afternoon, 21st September 2016 (International Day of Peace), for a famine walk. They were welcomed by Mayor Hilary McClintock.  From the Guildhall the walk went to the former Poor House at Glendermott Road and then on to St Columb’s Park House for refreshments and chat. As a regional and transport hub, Derry would have received many starving incomers during the Great Famine, presenting themselves at the Poor House door where the famine walk stopped and remembered those who suffered and died.

Organised by Waylon Gary White Deer for Afri, with Concern backing, the walk leader was Linda Ervine of the Turas Irish language project at East Belfast Mission, some of whose members came on the walk. Linda Ervine drew attention to the fact that the Protestant community, and she is from a Presbyterian background, also suffered in An Gorta Mór, but that history had been hidden. Other speakers included Waylon Gary White Deer, Rob Fairmichael for Afri, and Helen Henderson of St Columb’s Park House, and sean nós singer Noeleen Ní Cholla performed a couple of songs including Éirigh suas a stóirín.

This Walk was part of Afri’s Famine Landscape Project and was organised in partnership with St. Columb’s Park House.

Famine Commemoration: Without Food, Without Voice, Without Name

Damien Dempsey leads the walk from the Garden of Remembrance to Glasnevin cemetery organised as part of the Afri-Choctaw Famine Project. Photo by Derek Speirs

Damien Dempsey leads the walk from the Garden of Remembrance to Glasnevin cemetery organised as part of the Afri-Choctaw Famine Landscape Project. Photo by Derek Speirs

“The Famine is an awful wound on the Irish psyche and we don’t talk about it enough. I think we should have a national day of grieving when we all go a river bank or the sea or a lake and just grieve for all who died of hunger and as a result of Colonialism.”

These were the words of Damien Dempsey as he spoke at the Famine Walk which began at the Garden of Remembrance and ended at Glasnevin Cemetery on Saturday, August 27th 2016.  The theme of the walk was ‘Gan Bia, Gan Béal, Gan Ainm” (Without Food, Without Voice, Without Name) and it was organised as part of the Afri-Choctaw Famine Landscape Project.

The event was introduced by Choctaw Gary White Deer and the context and relevance of the walk was outlined by Joe Murray. There was music from RoJ and Paul as well as David Fury before we headed for Glasnevin in glorious sunshine. (more…)

Famine Walk in Drumshanbo, Leitrim

resizeTo mark the national famine commemoration day a famine walk was held in Drumshanbo on Sunday, September 11th 2016. The walk took place from St Patrick’s Church to the famine graveyard a short distance away, where a wreath was laid and a tree planted to the memory of the famine dead.  The walk was organised by Bryan Ryan a student of Drumshanbo traditional music school run by Mossie Martin.

The walk consisted of over sixty people which included Sinn Fein councillor Brenden Barry and Nancy Woods of Drumshanbo Comhaltas as well as poets and musicians from around Leitrim, A bass drum played by Ronan McManus of the four Green fields flute band lead the walk as it made its way to the famine graveyard where over 500 victim’s of an Gorta Mor are buried.  The graveyard was attached to the old pre emancipation Church of Murhaun which stood there in 1744 before St Patrick’s Church was built in 1851 closer to the village. (more…)

Damien Dempsey to lead Dublin Famine Walk

Choctaw Gary White Deer in Glasnevin Cemetery

Choctaw Gary White Deer in Glasnevin Cemetery

A Great Hunger commemoration walk led by Damien Dempsey will proceed from the Garden of Remembrance to Glasnevin Cemetery on Saturday, 27 August, at 2:00 PM. The theme of the walk is “Gan Bia, Gan Beal, Gan Ainm” (Without Food, Without Voice, Without Name) and is being sponsored by Afri.

Glasnevin Cemetery has the largest mass grave in Ireland, with tens of thousands of victims of Ireland’s Great Hunger interred. Names of all Famine victims have been kept in the Glasnevin registry, highly unusual for Famine mass burials. “Through remembering, healing happens” said walk organiser Choctaw Gary White Deer. In 1847, the Choctaw donated monies for Irish Famine relief.

“It’s our duty to pass on the true history, brutal and beautiful, to the children, and they might see they have more in common than they thought with less fortunate people around the world now” Damien Dempsey said. “Everyone is very welcome to come along” he added.

Other walk leaders include: Choctaw Gary White Deer, musician RoJ, and Justine Nantale (Uganda).

The Resistance Continues

Film by RoJ

On Monday July 25th Afri and friends gathered in Dublin to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the acquittal of the Pitstop Ploughshares on charges of $US 2.5 million criminal damage of a U.S. Navy War Plane at Shannon Airport en route to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. (more…)

Bloomsday Not Bombsday

Afri staff, volunteers and supporters donned Panama hats on Bloomsday, June 16th, and picketed 30, Botanic Avenue to highlight the fact, revealed in Panama Papers, that a company at this address facilitates commission payments on behalf of major Italian Arms Company Finmeccanica.  See below film about the action.

Film by RoJ

Spirit Felt During Famine Walk

Nóilín Ní Cholla sings sean nós song An Mhaighdean Mhara to walkers at Famine Graveyard in Dunfanaghy

Nóilín Ní Cholla sings sean nós song An Mhaighdean Mhara to walkers at Famine Graveyard in Dunfanaghy

“We were very pleased with this year’s Afri Famine Walk in Northwest Donegal” said Máire Nic Fhearraigh, a walk organiser. “Participants came from as far away as Dublin.”

Called “Seeds of Hope and Remembrance”, the nine-mile journey originated on Saturday 4th June in Dunfanaghy and ended in Falcarragh. Walkers stopped along the way to lay flowers at a Famine mass grave. “When Noleen Ní Cholla sang a beautiful sean nós song at graveside, it stirred something there. Everyone felt the spirit of what we were doing. We carried that spirit with us on our walk” Nic Fhearraigh added. (more…)

“Seeds of Hope and Remembrance” connects with Glenveagh National Park

Chocktaw squash

“Seeds of Hope and Remembrance” is the theme of this year’s Afri Famine walk in Northwest Donegal. “Choctaw heirloom squash seeds will be planted at the community garden in Falcarragh to honour the Choctaw, who helped to feed Famine Ireland” explains Maire Nic Fhearraigh, a walk organiser.  The squash is called issito in the Choctaw language and matures into a large, oblong shape that is bright orange, both inside and out. Sean O Gaoithin, head gardener at Glenveagh National Park recently reflected on the planting of Choctaw squash seeds at Glenveagh and on food security, community gardens and how planting seeds helps us to remember our heritages:

“Heirloom seeds connect us with our histories. In the past twenty years at Glenveagh we’ve collected many plant seeds unique to Donegal and the country, like the Gortahork Cabbage and Irish apples. By growing them we become the keepers of these plants and we connect to our heritage directly, to the biodiversity of this particular place and to our ancestors. By bringing these kinds of plants in and highlighting them in a high profile growing venue, Glenveagh in a sense has become the Botanic Gardens of Donegal.

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Seeds of Hope and Remembrance – Donegal Famine Commemoration Walk

Tony Dalton Falcarragh community gardener receives Choctaw heirloom squash seeds from AFRI organiser Waylon White Deer

Tony Dalton, Falcarragh community gardener, receives Choctaw heirloom squash seeds from Afri organiser, Waylon White Deer

For hundreds of years, Choctaw Indians  raised corn, beans and squash in vast and fertile flood plains,  until the American army evicted them from their ancient homelands on deadly 500-mile forced marches. Not long after, the Choctaw were asked to donate monies to help feed the victims of Ireland’s Great Hunger. They gave what little they had. (more…)

Shamrock Shame

On the 25th May 2016 peace activists and Afri friends, Dave Donnellan and Colm Roddy, entered Shannon airport to inspect illegal U.S. military war planes stationed there. The three security authorities of the Gardaí, Army and airport police all refused to search the planes for weapons in gross dereliction of their duty to protect innocent civilians. Dave and Colm were arrested and charged with criminal damage without lawful excuse. See article about the action here.

Statement from Joe Murray, Coordinator of Afri:  “In light of the courageous faith actions of Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan in exposing Shannon’s bloody role in war, Afri calls on the government to end the use of Shannon as a warport. The consequences of the wars facilitated by Shannon are seen in the chaos in the Middle East region and the tsunami of refugees driven from their homes to which, in turn, Europe and Ireland has ruthlessly closed their borders.”

Film about the action by RoJ

Reflections from the Food Sovereignty Assembly and Famine Walk

The 2016 Famine Walk began at Delphi Lodge, led by walk leaders Cathryn O'Reilly and Clare O'Grady Walshe (the other walk leader not present here is Rafeef Ziadah) among others. Photo by Derek Speirs

The 2016 Famine Walk began at Delphi Lodge, led by walk leaders Cathryn O’Reilly and Clare O’Grady Walshe (the other walk leader not present here is Rafeef Ziadah) among others. Photo by Derek Speirs

Around thirty people gathered for Afri’s 3rd annual food sovereignty assembly, which took place in the town hall in Westport on the 20th May this year to examine food sovereignty issues and to explore what practical steps are necessary to implement the ideas of the Food sovereignty Proclamation which was agreed and posted in 2015.  Among the questions discussed at this year’s event were: how can we accelerate the transition to a low carbon, fair and resilient society?; how can we produce both food and energy in ways that reduce greenhouse gases and their negative impact on the planet? Among the many suggestions was to continue to have April 24th – the actual date of the 1916 Rising – as a food sovereignty day in future years as it was this year.

Rafeef Ziadah speaking during the Afri Famine Walk in Mayo. Photo by Derek Speirs

Rafeef Ziadah speaking during the Afri Famine Walk in Mayo. Photo by Derek Speirs

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Ireland SolidariTree

On the eve of the Afri Famine Walk, Palestinian poet and activist, Rafeef Ziadah, planted an olive tree and an ash tree, sacred trees of Palestine and Ireland, with Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh in attendance. The olive and the ash, together called the SolidariTree, symbolises the bond of support between the people of Ireland and of Palestine. The event was organised by Palfest Ireland.

Film by RoJ

Famine Walk 2016


Mairtín OConnor family

A series of memorable events will take place in Mayo on May 20th and 21st as part of a Famine Walk week-end, organised by Afri.

On Friday, May 20th the 3rd annual ‘Food Sovereignty Assembly’, bringing together people involved in many aspects of growing, distributing and cooking food, will take place in the Town Hall in Westport from 2pm to 6pm.

On Saturday May 21st the Doolough Famine Walk will take on added significance, one hundred years on from the 1916 Rising. Remembering and commemorating acts of resistance in Ireland and abroad have been key themes of the Walk since its inception. (more…)

Food Sovereignty Assembly 2016

Food Sovereignty Assembly 2016 p1 (more…)