Nearly a hundred people attended the 6th annual Carlow famine walk on February 6th, organised by Afri in partnership with IT Carlow and Carlow County Council. A large group of students from Knockbeg College, accompanied by their teacher Ciara Murphy, were among those who walked the short distance from IT Carlow to the nearby Famine graveyard.
On arrival in the Famine Graveyard, walkers were addressed by local historian Martin Nevin, who spoke about the Carlow workhouse and the harsh conditions that existed there. He explained how “families were split up, husbands and wives separated and children also separated from their parents. Some children never saw their parents again, after they entered the workhouse.” This helps explain why the ‘Poorhouse’ was the object of such hostility and hatred among Irish people for many years afterwards.
The next speaker was Stephanie McDermott of Rohingya Action Ireland, who was accompanied by members of the Rohingya community living in Carlow. Stephanie said that the main aim of Rohingya Action Ireland, currently, is to have the Freedom of Galway City withdrawn from Aung San Suu Kyi, because of the treatment of the Rohingya in Burma. Tens of thousands of Rohingya were forced to flee across the border to Bangladesh after troops, backed by local militia, burned their villages and attacked civilians.
The final speaker was Minister Rev. David White who spoke about ‘scarcity’ during the time of An Gorta Mór and today and how solidarity requires us to stand with those who are suffering today, like the Rohingya.
RoJ sang his very moving and appropriate song the Arc of Solitude before we planted an oak tree as a symbol of life in a place of death.