The Doolough Famine Walk will take place on Saturday, May 20th 2023.
Once again, this year, walkers will gather in Louisburgh for conversation, talks and music before being ferried by bus to the start of the walk. Retracing the steps of several hundred people who made this journey in search of food during An Gorta Mór, walkers will make their way through the spectacular Doolough Valley in the course of this iconic journey.
View the brochure here
Register on Eventbrite here
Please assemble for registration in Louisburgh from 11am. Shuttle buses will bring walkers to the starting point from approx. 12.40pm. A brief ceremony (5 minutes) will take place at the Famine Memorial in Delphi Lodge before walkers return to Louisburgh. Please note there is no parking available at Delphi Lodge. The walk is approximately 11 miles and a shuttle car will be available along the route if needed.
Famine is a Lie and War is a Crime
For 35 years we’ve walked the Famine Road through the Doolough Valley in the footsteps of those hundreds who travelled the same road in search of food in the Spring of 1849. Turned away, denied and robbed even of hope, many died on the return road to nowhere. There was, of course no shortage of food in Ireland at the time but this was not available to the poor but rather exported in vast quantities, resulting in the death of a million and the forced migration of a million and a half more. Previous Walk Leader and former hostage Brian Keenan summed this up in the phrase ‘Famine is a Lie’.
One of the many disturbing facts about An Gorta Mór is that more money was spent by the British Government on maintaining the military in Ireland than on providing food for the people who were starving. One might have hoped for lessons to be learnt from this obscene skewing of priorities but unfortunately that is not the case. In 2021, for the first time, the global arms budget surpassed $2 trillion while more than 900 million people are hungry in today’s world. War is big business and the weapons industry is booming as wars rage around our burning planet.
Sadly, at a time when the world needs peacemakers as never before, ‘Official Ireland’ is instead throwing in its lot with the war-makers of the world – announcing the biggest ever increase in military spending in 2022 and openly promoting the development of a weapons industry here. In the midst of a housing, health and climate crisis – is this really what Ireland or the world needs?
This stepping away from peace and our valued policy of neutrality is happening in the context of numerous wars raging around the world and as the fighting in Ukraine has become a proxy war between two nuclear-armed superpowers. In this context, we would do well to listen to this warning from the head of the UN’s Nuclear watchdog: “each day we are rolling a dice and if we allow this to continue…then one day our luck will run out”. To underscore this point, the Doomsday Clock, created by scientists to symbolise the urgent dangers to human civilisation, and our proximity to “midnight” — in other words, our destruction – is now at 90 seconds to midnight, the closest it’s ever been.
While Russia is rightly condemned and opposed for its war crimes in Ukraine, many other wars are fuelled and supported by weapons from Western countries. Israel, despite its brutal war and its oppression of the Palestinian people, enjoys a special relationship with the EU and is supplied with weapons by the US, Germany, Italy, the UK and more. This duplicity must be called out, challenged and changed.
To properly remember those who died in Doolough, we must stand in solidarity with all who experience hunger and injustice today. And we must intensify our efforts to tackle the lie of ‘famine’ and the crime of war including the extremely profitable and corrupt weapons industry whose products kill if used and kill if not because of the wastage of valuable resources which could go to meeting real human needs and real security.
We are delighted to have as our Walk Leaders: Senator Frances Black; Michael Doorly, the Head of Active Citizenship with Concern Worldwide and Joseph Kabwe Kamfwa from Zambia, currently pursuing an MA in International Development at Maynooth University. Music will be provided by one of the most influential Irish folk singers Karan Casey.
Frances Black is an Independent Senator, singer and founder of the RISE Foundation, a charitable organisation working with people with a loved one in addiction. A strong advocate for social justice and equality, she was elected to the 25th Seanad in 2016, the first female Independent from the Seanad’s panel system in the history of the state. Senator Black is passionate about being a voice for the vulnerable, and continues to work with organisations in the voluntary and charitable sectors alongside her work in Seanad Éireann. Frances is the Chairperson and a founder member of the recently launched Irish Anti-Apartheid Campaign for Palestine.
Singer and songwriter Karan Casey has been blazing a trail for over twenty-five years. She is famous for her ballads, love songs and unique versions of social justice songs. She has released eleven albums as well as collaborating with many other artists including The Chieftains, the Dubliners, Peggy Seeger, Maura O’Connell, James Taylor and many more. She helped found Fairplé which aims to achieve fairness and gender balance for female performers in Irish traditional and fold music. Her song ‘Down in the Glen’ was nominated for Best Original Folk Song at the RTE Folk Awards in 2019, the same year as she completed a PhD in music. Her new album ‘Nine Apples of Gold’ was released earlier this year.
Michael Doorly is the Head of Active Citizenship with Concern Worldwide, leading on such activities as the signature Concern Debates, the Transition Year (TY) Academy and the Project Us Programme. In his role he works with decision-makers, educators, and the public to take action on hunger, conflict, climate and the SDGs. The global citizenship team which he leads is an integral part of the organisation’s goals and objectives. His role also involves overseeing the successful implementation, monitoring and review of the Global Citizenship Education programme; managing the annual Concern GCE Grants to selected partners and providing ongoing support and collaboration with grant partners to ensure reach and impact.
Joseph Kabwe Kamfwa is a Zambian citizen born in Lusaka in 1987. He is married with two daughters aged 4 years and 8 months. He studied and completed a BSc in Agricultural Economics in the University of Zambia in 2012 and is currently pursuing an MA in International Development at Maynooth University under the Ireland-Africa Fellowship programme by Irish Aid. He has been working for the Ministry of Agriculture in Zambia for over nine years as a Senior Agricultural Officer on various issues relating to food and nutritional security, climate change and reducing humanitarian need.
Some useful information about the event:
You are welcome to visit the following places before the registration starts at 11am in the local town hall:
- Books at One/Art at One on Lower Bridge Street open and welcomes all (10am to 5pm)
- Granuaile Centre and Famine Room, Church Street (open from 10am until 2pm)
Registration and opening ceremony
- Registration begins at 11.00am in the local town hall (€25 registration fee per adult participant – this includes payment for the shuttle bus). Even if you have pre-registered you will need to go to the registration desk to collect a ticket to board the bus.
- This will be followed by a short opening ceremony. WE ASK ALL WALKERS TO PLEASE BE PATIENT DURING REGISTRATION AND THE OPENING CEREMONY. The opening ceremony is a very important part of the Famine Walk experience with inspirational speakers and wonderful music.
- Shuttle buses will bring walkers to the starting point from approx. 12.40pm. BUSES WILL NOT DEPART UNTIL THE OPENING CEREMONY IS COMPLETED, SO PLEASE DO NOT APPROACH THE BUSES UNTIL INSTRUCTED TO DO SO BY THE ORGANISERS.
- A tree will be planted at Delphi Lodge before walkers take to the road (5 mins).
- The walk is 11 miles (approx.), walkers should walk on the left-hand side. A shuttle car will be available during the walk for anyone who gets into difficulty.
- No parking is available at Delphi Lodge.
- Dogs must be kept on a lead.
- Tea/coffee and Portaloos will be available along the route.
After the Walk
Certificates will be given out at the end of the walk in the Parish Hall
There are a number of places where food will be available:
- Seven Wanders coffee shop (open for breakfast and lunch until 4pm)
- Tia Café, the Square (vegetarian friendly café and deli open until 3pm)
- McNamara’s Café, the Square (coffee shop open until 4pm)
- Tia by the River, Long Street (open in the evening)
- Some hot food will be available in the Deli in Gala Supermarket, Bridge Street (open until 8pm)
- Louisburgh 74 restaurant on Chapel Street (open until 4pm)
- Good Grazing on Chapel Street (award-winning take away, open 5pm-9pm)
- Gaffney’s Seafood Restaurant, Chapel St. (with an outdoor sitting area, open from 5pm)
- There is a lovely place to relax down by the river at Scott’s Island.
- Walkers will gather in McNamara’s Pub from 8.30pm.
- Famine Walk CD is available at €10.
We look forward to seeing you on the Walk.