Famine Walk 2024

The Doolough Famine Walk will take place on Saturday, May 18th 2024.

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.

We are delighted to have as our Walk Leaders Faten Sourani, lawyer and advocate for human rights and social justice, with a particular focus on the rights of the Palestinian people and Donal O’Kelly, Dublin-born writer, performer and activist who has been involved in many Afri projects over the years since the Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid strike in Dublin in 1984. Music will be provided by the brilliant Irish-Palestinian artist Roisin El Cherif  accompanied by Katie O’Connor.

Since 1988, our annual Famine Walk has shed light on the interconnectedness of the tragedy of An Gorta Mór in Ireland with modern-day injustices worldwide. For nearly four decades, we have focused on human rights violations all around the world, from Belize, East Timor, El Salvador, Guatemala, South Africa, to the Niger Delta. As we remember our ancestors, we stand in solidarity with those all over the world for whom the experience of deprivation, destruction and death is a current reality, and use it to struggle for a more just future.

At our first Walk, Niall O’Brien, a Columban priest, just released from a Philipino prison summarised our shared experience with the Philippines stating, “if the difference between famine and starvation is that famine is caused by natural forces, while starvation is man-made, then An Gorta Mór was not a famine but a great and deliberate starvation, because there was no lack of food in Ireland at the time.” He went on to say, “be shocked but be not surprised, the same holds true in much of the global south today.”

This sentiment rings true today, having devastating consequences all over the world. In the Congo, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, millions of people face hunger and starvation at the hands of those who have the power to prevent it. But these crises are not isolated. War anywhere threatens peace and security everywhere. This is evident with the war in Ukraine, with the conflict not only devastating the people of Ukraine, but having a detrimental effect on food availability across the world. In what was once heralded as “the breadbasket of Europe” and one of the largest grain producers in the world, the war has seriously impacted Ukraine’s capacity for food production. More than this, the threat of a strike on a nuclear power plant poses an existential threat on a global scale.

This year, we dedicate the Famine Walk to highlighting and standing against genocide in Palestine. Just as Niall O’Brien highlighted the deliberate starvation of the Irish people, we want to shed light on the ongoing apartheid and colonialism to which Palestine is being subjected. Israel’s brutal bombardment and occupation, the use of imposed starvation and the countless other forms of violence being committed against the Palestinians, are unconscionable. For this Famine Walk, we want to promote action. We know the hearts and minds of the Irish people are with Palestine, but we need our government to put these feelings into political action. In the future, our actions, or lack thereof, will record us as people of courage and action, or as complicit. In the words of Malala, “there’s a moment when you have to choose to be silent or stand up’.

During An Gorta Mór, more than 26 million bushels of grain were exported from Ireland to England. We must never forget the million people who died from starvation or hunger related diseases and more than a million forcibly displaced at the hands of colonial rule. This experience deepens our empathy with people who have faced great injustices since then, including the horrors of the Holocaust and the abomination of the Nakba.

The Famine Walk gives us an opportunity to commemorate, learn and act. It is a poignant journey echoing the past and striving for a more peaceful future, giving us an opportunity to stand for humanity and against injustice. Let’s walk together with purpose and determination.

Faten Sourani is a lawyer and advocate for human rights and social justice, with
a particular focus on the rights of the Palestinian people. Coming from the Gaza
Strip, Faten has pursued her studies and professional endeavors in Galway and
Dublin. Over the past few years, she has collaborated with dedicated
individuals in the felds of international law, human rights research, and
advocacy to amplify the voices of those affected by confict and oppression in
the MENA region. Currently, she supports the work of the NGO Front Line
Defenders by supporting human rights defenders in the occupied Palestinian
Donal O’Kelly is a Dublin-born writer, performer and activist who has been
involved in many Afri projects over the years since the Dunnes Stores
anti-apartheid strike in Dublin in 1984. He considers the genocidal attack on
the Palestinian people a culmination of the repressive forces operating since
then, such as the arms industry of the rich white world, the beneficiary in
money and political infuence of the slaughter in Gaza. He is writing a book on
twenty-five years of Direct Provision in Ireland and the criminalisation of
The brilliant Irish-Palestinian artist Roisin El Cherif hails from Galway and draws
influence from Tracy Chapman, Stevie Nicks and Daughter to create a sound
that blurs the boundaries between folk, country and indie-pop. She recently
sang at the National day of Action for Palestine in Dublin and also at the ‘Artists
for Palestine’ concerts in the Olympia and the 3 Arena last year.

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.

Please see the Information Leaflet for Further information

Register on Eventbrite here

Death at Doolough by James Barry

‘Food for Thought’ in Castlebar and Westport on May 18th

Two important events are taking place in Co Mayo in May which aim to remember the Irish Famine and to explore its links with some of today’s sustainability challenges in Ireland and globally.  Both events, which are free of charge, will take place on May 18th before Afri’s annual Famine Walk (Saturday 19th May, Doolough Co. Mayo). A daytime event, ‘Conversations on Cultural Resilience – Famine, Food, Energy & Culture’ will take place from 10-5pm in the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology Castlebar, Co Mayo. Subsequently, an evening celebration of Cultural Resilience with further conversation, ceol and craic will take place in Blousers public house in Westport from 8-11 pm.

The events have been organised by a number of leading Irish NGOs and groups who have come together including FEASTA (the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability), the human rights NGO Afri, the community resilience NGO Cultivate, a recently formed Irish language group, Teacht Aniar, and Food Sovereignty Ireland.

The open format of the events will be based on conversation through culture, using the Great Famine as a backdrop, reflecting on the policies and politics of famines. The events are being held in solidarity with the global justice movement and will cover issues such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, climate action and food sovereignty.

One of the event organisers, Mark Garavan, FEASTA member and lecturer with GMIT Castlebar says:
County Mayo was one of the counties which suffered most when the great famine hit between 1845 – 1848. The recent extreme weather events in Ireland, international instability and the refugee crisis have focussed many minds on the fragility of the global economy and the vulnerability of ecosystems worldwide. There is a need to build resilience on a grassroots local level whilst also reinforcing global solidarity and justice. Unfortunately there is often a lack of dialogue on how we should go about this. The upcoming events aim to stimulate such a discussion and Mayo is the place where it can begin.”

‘Food for Thought’ will also explore and celebrate the legacy of the radical economist and founder of Feasta, Richard Douthwaite, who is known internationally for his writing on different aspects of sustainability creative and his work with communities in Ireland and abroad.

All events are open to members of the public to attend.

To register for the free events or see the complete schedule visit: https://foodforthoughtmayo.eventbrite.ie/.