Famine Walk 2013: Opening The Gates – Sowing New Seeds
Saturday May 18th 2013
From Louisburgh to Delphi Lodge, Co. Mayo
Registration from 12.45pm; Walk beginning at 1.30pm
Walk Leaders: Gary White Deer, Salome Mbugua, Fergal Anderson
Music: Declan O’Rourke
For the first time since its inception in 1988, the Afri Famine Walk will complete the journey from Louisburgh to Delphi Lodge – the exact route of the original ‘journey of horror’ of March 30th/31st 1849. The immediate cause of what became known as ‘the death march’ was the news that two ‘commissioners’, Colonel Hogrove and Captain Primrose, would arrive in Louisburgh and certify as paupers the people who had gathered to meet them, thus entitling them to a small ration of meal each. Several hundred people assembled in Louisburgh but the commissioners failed to appear, having decided to see the people in Delphi Lodge instead. The people set out on their 11 mile walk along mountain road and pathway in driving snow and bitter cold. When they finally did manage to meet the commissioners they were refused either food or tickets of admission to the workhouse and so they began their weary, dispirited return journey. Many – some say hundreds – died along the way, many of whom were buried where they fell.
On May 18th, 2013 people will again assemble in Louisburgh and walk to Delphi Lodge carrying with them the names of those definitely known to have died on the same route in 1849 – Catherine Grady, Mary McHale, James Flynn, Mrs. Dalton and her son and daughter and the Dillon family – as well as the names of people who have died in modern famines throughout the world. This time the gates of Delphi Lodge will open in welcome. Symbols of life, a tree and potatoes (of the non-genetically modified variety), will be planted.
The Famine Walk is a solemn act of respect, remembrance and solidarity with the forgotten people who died as a result of poverty and hunger in Ireland and continue to die throughout the world today. The welcome being extended to walkers by Delphi Lodge this year is rich in symbolism – representing a much needed ‘opening of the gates’.
In the words of Michael Wade, Manager of Delphi Lodge, “By opening our gates to the Famine Walk, Delphi Lodge is acknowledging our part in what happened in 1849, instead of ignoring it, while showing to the world what we are today: an Irish country house which offers a warm welcome to all.”
Governments, corporations and financial institutions continue to close their gates to the poor and needy of our world. Excess of wealth sits incongruously alongside extreme poverty throughout the world, including in Ireland. Monumental and often illegitimate debts are loaded onto the shoulders of those least able to pay. A grossly dysfunctional economic system ensures the consumption of 80% of the world’s resources by 20% of its people. There is no lack of food in our world today, nor was there in the Ireland of the 1840s – rather the problem is who has access to it. The profit motive continues to ensure that cash crops for export often take priority over the production of food for people in need. In addition, 30% to 50% of the food that is produced never gets eaten and half the food purchased in Europe and the US is thrown away.
In 1849 the gates of Delphi Lodge were closed to the Famine walkers. In 2013 these gates will open to walkers bearing the names of those who died. The walk will represent a demand to governments and institutions in Ireland and around the world to ‘open the gates’ to the marginalized and excluded of our world and to make food sovereignty, the elimination of poverty and hunger and the preservation of the planet our number one global priorities.
– Joe Murray, Afri Coordinator
Walkers will be welcomed at Delphi Lodge where a tree will be planted and a moment’s silence will be observed in memory of those who died on the original Famine Walk in 1849.
We are asking each participant to raise at least €20, in sponsorship for this event, to ensure that Afri can continue its important work.
To download the 2013 brochure, go here: Famine Walk Brochure 2013