Reflections from Carlow Famine Walk 2020

Climate Change was the theme of the 2020 Famine Walk which began in IT Carlow and concluded in the nearby Famine graveyard. Approximately 70 young people attended from schools including Gaelscoil  Eoghain and Tyndale College.  Each year an oak tree is planted as part of the ceremony of remembrance and solidarity and this year the tree was supplied by two Transition Year students – Eimear and Abbie – who had set up a company to grow and sell trees as part of their course. Thanks to Eimear and Abbie for this excellent initiative and generous gift.

Among the speakers was Lynne Whelan, who is Design Strategist at Design+ Technology Gateway, in IT Carlow. She gave a moving account of the history behind the Famine Graveyard in which she estimated that 3000 people are buried.

Sinead Doyle, who works to promote the Sustainable Development Goals with Carlow County Council spoke about what Carlow Co. Co. is doing to tackle climate change. Their areas of concern include land-use and natural resources and the Famine Graveyard provides opportunities in this regard.

Joe from Afri spoke about re-wilding and the great importance of preserving sites such as the Famine Graveyard in Carlow and of treating them with dignity and respect.  He raised the possibility of the Famine Graveyard – a symbol of hunger and death – becoming a sign of hope and of life by becoming a place of abundant biodiversity.  He referenced the work of Mary Reynolds, founder of ‘We are the ark’ and advised participants to check out her website

Martin Smith  from IT Carlow also spoke about how mass hunger still happens in the world and how An Gorta Mór is an important part of our history.  He then asked for a moment’s silence to remember the significance of the place in which we were standing and to reflect on the real human stories of those who were buried there.

There were a number of teachers present and some parents of the young people as well as students and Lecturers from The Institute of Technology Carlow, Carlow College and representatives of the Rohingya Community.

The event concluded with music from RoJ, who played a song that he wrote on the theme of solidarity.

Adapted from report written by Katelyn Lyons.

Carlow Famine Graveyard Memorial

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