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.

A special feature of the event was the planting of Choctaw heirloom squash seeds at The Yard, the location of the community garden in Falcarragh. The seeds were handed over to the walkers by community garden members in Dunfanaghy. “The Yard was built in 1847 as a Famine storehouse” Máire Nic Fhearraigh explained. “The heirloom squash seeds will sprout from there, starting a cycle of hope and renewal in honour of the Choctaw, whose donation fed victims of Ireland’s Great Hunger.”

“Healing is remembering” said Waylon White Deer, an Afri organiser and Choctaw Indian living in Falcarragh. “During the Great Hunger, Irish men, women and children were forced to rely on the Lumper potato, which was struck by blight. Over one million died, and more than a million fled Ireland as Famine refugees. In their memory we are planting seeds to help feed others as an act of healing.  And community gardens encourage biodiversity.”

Walk organisers wish to thank Pobail le Chéile, The Gweedore Bar in Falcarragh, Mangan Bus Tours, the Dunfanaghy Workhouse Museum, Noleen Ní Cholla, Roger Whelan, Paul Kernan, Sara Kernan, Tom Feeny, Sally Boyce and family, Tony Dalton, Gerty McKinnley, Reverend David McDonald and all other volunteers and supporters.

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