Famine Walk 2017: From Hunger and War…to a Home and a Welcome?

‘Bog Cotton’ by Choctaw artist Waylon (Gary) White Deer. The painting, among other things, features the Workhouse and the Direct Provision Centre.

From Hunger and War…to a Home and a Welcome?

Saturday 20th May, Doolough Co. Mayo

Registration from 12.45pm in Louisburgh Town hall

Beginning at 1.30pm

Walk Leaders: Donnah Vuma, Abjata Khalif, Danny Cusack

Music: Joe Black

***Register online here***

See also 2017 Famine Walk brochure

For 30 years Afri has walked the famine road through the Doolough Valley in County Mayo. It is a walk like no other, abounding in memory, music, history, solidarity and spectacular beauty; retracing the steps of the dispossessed of the past and forging solidarity with the banished and oppressed of today. 

Extraordinary people have walked this road over three decades and extraordinary stories have been told: stories of food and famine; of oppression and denial of human rights; of wars, violence and the impact of climate change; but also stories of courage and determination; of inspiration, illumination and motivation. And music, song and theatre from some of our greatest artists have been integral parts of every walk.

This year’s walk will link the experience of Irish people fleeing on coffin ships or being condemned to workhouses during An Gorta Mór in the nineteenth century with those crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy, rickety boats today, some of whom, if they survive, may end up in Direct Provision Centres for asylum seekers in Ireland.

Sadly, Ireland’s welcome for the stranger has been appalling, despite the fact that we know the experience of being refugees: it’s in our genes, it’s part of our DNA. Irish people have travelled to the four corners of the earth in search of a safe place of refuge; a secure home; to escape poverty, fear and exploitation.

Now Ireland is in a position to take a lead role in addressing the situation of refugees – one of the most urgent and critical issues facing our world today. According to the UN’s refugee agency, the number of people currently in situations of displacement is over 65 million. As many as 55% of these come from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.

Drawing on our own experience of famine and exile, we must tackle this critical issue as well as the forces that are bringing it about, especially incessant wars, fed by an obscene arms trade, and climate change.

We must offer a welcome to often vulnerable, traumatised and shell shocked refugees, many of whom have fled war and terror and made hellish journeys across land and sea. Above all, we must end the cruelty of Direct Provision and repeal the new ‘International Protection Act’, which generates such fear and is a source of such stress for those seeking asylum in our country.  The historical memories evoked by the famine road through the Doolough Valley demand no less.

See short film of walk leader, Donnah Vuma, speaking about her experiences of the Direct Provision system:

Donnah Nothing About Us, Without Us from Caoimhe Butterly on Vimeo.



Afri’s annual Doolough Famine Walk was featured on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Ramblings’ show and was selected as BBC Radio 4’s ‘Pick of the Week’ on Sunday 19th February.  Listen to the show here.

To register online go here or check out our facebook event page.  If you  are planning on doing the Famine Walk please contact the Afri office for a sponsorship card – admin@afri.ie or 01 8827563.  Our brochure is available here.

General Information

  • Please assemble in Louisburgh for registration at 12.45pm. 
  • There will be an approximately 15 min opening ceremony, including speakers and music – this is a very important part of the Famine Walk and we would encourage all participants to be present for this part of the event.
  • Buses will bring walkers to start point from 1.30pm. 
  • A tree will be planted at the start of the walk at the Famine Memorial in Delphi Lodge before walkers return to Louisburgh. 
  • There is no parking available at Delphi Lodge. 
  • The walk is approximately 11 miles (18 km) and a shuttle car will be available along the route if needed.
  • Comfortable shoes, raingear and water are strongly recommended.
  • Tea/coffee (but not food) will be provided at a halfway point along the way.  There will also be toilet facilities at the halfway point as well as along the lake.


We are asking participants to consider raising sponsorship for Afri, so that we can continue our important work.  If you would like to do so, please get in touch with the Afri office and we will post you out a sponsorship card.  If you would prefer not to raise sponsorship you can register online here or pay €24 on the day – which includes the registration fee and cost of the bus to the start of the walk.

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