‘In The Footsteps of Our Ancestors’ Famine Walk

Choctaw Gary White Deer
Choctaw Gary White Deer

‘In the Footsteps of Our Ancestors’

Famine Walk, Saturday 30th May 2015, 1pm

Starting at The Yard, Falcarragh (The Old Famine Storehouse)

To the Dunfanaghy Workhouse Museum (approximately 9.5 miles)


The purpose of the walk is to honour the sacred memory of Ireland’s Famine dead; to heal the wounds of Ireland’s Famine through living remembrance; to raise food sovereignty awareness; and to place the Great Famine in solidarity with those who yet suffer from lack of food, water, shelter and other human rights.

With guest speakers, music, poetry.  Tea, coffee and refreshments on arrival (bring own water and snacks for the walk).  Shuttle bus available for the return journey.

Social afterwards in The Gweedore Bar, Falcarragh, Saturday 30th May from 9pm.

To see who’s going see facebook event page here

The Irish-Choctaw Famine Link

In the spring of 1847, ordinary Choctaw people donated $170 (€8,000) from ‘meagre resources’ to the victims of an Gorta Mór, the Great Irish Famine.  Described as an act of ‘one poor, dispossessed people reaching out to help another’ the money was used to buy wheat for Ireland.  This unique Famine link is an ongoing legacy of solidarity and remembrance between the Irish and Choctaw peoples.

Famine History Presentation Talk on Friday 29th May, 8pm in The Yard, Falcarragh (The Old Famine Storehouse)

Organised by Afri and supported by Concern

Updated Version of Famine Graveyard Report Available

They All Had NamesAfri has recently revised and re-published the Workhouses & Famine Graveyards Report. “They All Had Names: A Survey of Tithe na mBocht and Famine Graveyards in Ireland” was re-published this year to include further information.


The report aims to compile a comprehensive record of all famine related sites in Ireland, province by province.


Copies of this publication are available from the Afri office. If you would like to buy a copy please contact the Afri office: 01 8827563/ 8827581 or by email – admin@afri.ie

Shades of Solidarity: Book Launch & Art Exhibition

“Shades of Solidarity”

Book launch & Art Exhibition

by the renowned Choctaw author & painter

Gary White Deer

Wednesday 22nd May, 6pm

Glens Centre, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim


Choctaw Dancers

Gary’s memoir “Touched by Thunder” was published in 2012 and Afri is pleased to co-host its first launch outside Dublin in association with the Glens Centre, Manorhamilton. Simultaneously, there will be an exhibition of his paintings featuring among others “An Arrow Through Time”, an artistic representation of the Choctaw donation, “When Corporate Spuds Came to Ireland” and “Fracking”, a graphic illustration of the potentially devastating effects of shale gas exploration.

Gary White Deer has represented the Irish-Choctaw Famine link on many occasions in Ireland and beyond.

To book: http://www.theglenscentre.com/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/events/537900032918130

An Arrow Through Time

Afri commissioned Choctaw artist Gary (Waylon) White Deer to create this piece entitled “An Arrow Through Time” about the 1847 Choctaw donation to the victims of the Irish Famine.

“There is a teaching among our peoples that says feeding someone is the greatest thing you can do, because when you do that, you’re extending human life. We have to assume they told us of the depths of the famine, touching on the incredible loss of life and the dispossession… these were common themes to my people at the time. Having gone through that deprivation, there was an automatic empathy.


I guess we’re really trying to complete the circle. We don’t know, just like the Choctaw people in 1847 didn’t know, how their modest actions, their concern at the time, would result in something beautiful happening now…


If we can turn those tragedies round that’s the way the circle can be completed, because that’s the way it was started.


It’s an arrow being shot. It might land way in the future.  But someday your children, or grandchildren, are going to walk through time and they’re going to come to that spot where that arrow landed and there’ll be a blessing waiting there for them.”


– Gary (Waylon) White Deer of the Choctaw Nation talking about his people’s contribution to the Irish during the famine years.  

Afri expresses dismay at the EPA decision to grant GM potato licence

Press Release, 26th July 2012

The justice and human rights group Action from Ireland (Afri) has expressed dismay at the decision of the Environmental Protection Agency to grant a license to grow genetically modified potatoes in Ireland.

From left to right: Chef & TV presenter Clodagh McKenna, Clare O’Grady Walshe & Ruairi Quinn advocating a ‘GM-Free Ireland’ at an Afri press conference on the 21st February 2011 to alert the Irish public of an imminent decision by Minister Brendan Smith to allow GM products into Europe and Ireland. Photo Derek Speirs

Joe Murray of Afri described the move as short sighted and one that threatened Ireland’s economy by eroding its reputation as a ‘green, clean’ food producer. “The move by the EPA to grant approval for the GM potato trials by Teagasc is completely ill-advised. It will do serious reputational damage to Ireland’s flourishing organic industry at a time when there is an ever increasing demand for organic food. By contrast, there is little appetite for GM foods either in Ireland or in Europe” said Mr Murray.

“The argument that Ireland needs a blight resistant GM potato is ridiculous because there are already blight resistant potatoes in Ireland – and they are not genetically modified and therefore do not pose any risk of contamination to other crops,” Mr Murray continued.

Waylon (Gary) White Deer, Choctaw artist, whose ancestors sent a cash donation to Ireland during the Great Famine, also criticized the decision of the EPA calling it a “dangerous step”. Mr White Deer described the decision as having critical consequences for food sovereignty and biological diversity. “It is important that the Irish people don’t give up their food sovereignty. This is a risky experiment which, if unchecked, will eventually lead to the corporate control and manipulation of Irish food sources. Now that GM has gotten its tentacles into the Irish soil it is important that we don’t let them spread.”

Famine Walk 2012: Corporations, Crops and Control – Seeds of Life or Seeds of Strife

Joe Murray, who was present at the first Famine Walk in Doolough in 1988, reflected, in his opening remarks, on the past twenty five years and how the Famine Walk remains relevant today.

Anita & Tommy Hayes from the Irish Seeds Savers Association planting a variety of potatoes called ‘Butes’, which were unaffected by blight during the 1845-1849 famine, as part of the 25th anniversary Afri Famine Walk. Photo: Derek Speirs

It’s hard to believe that the Doolough-Louisburgh Famine Walk has been on the road for 25 years! When Afri initiated this walk of remembrance and solidarity in 1988 the Great Famine was hardly commemorated at all and, if it was, the link with contemporary famine and hunger throughout the world was rarely made. Afri set out to ensure that the Great Famine would be commemorated because of its singular importance in our history. We also wanted to ensure, however, that it would be commemorated not in a self-indulgent or self-pitying way but rather in a way that links it to contemporary issues of hunger and famine throughout the world. We sought to ensure that the lessons learned from the Great Famine in Ireland would be applied to today’s world.

It is encouraging to see that the Great Famine is now being commemorated in Ireland and that the contemporary dimension is almost always included. However, in the ensuing 25 years the situation for the world’s poor has not improved, in fact things have gotten worse. The numbers now experiencing hunger in our world has increased to a staggering one billion. One billion people who experience hunger in our world of plenty! The Famine Walk focuses on the causes of hunger such as unjust economic structures; unfair trade; the war industry (costing in excess of $1600 billion in 2010); climate change and a relatively new cause of famine – the issue of genetic engineering. This year’s walk is in solidarity with those affected by the genetic engineering of food crops. This is not an academic argument as its impact is felt by millions of people throughout the world. Continue reading “Famine Walk 2012: Corporations, Crops and Control – Seeds of Life or Seeds of Strife”

Famine Walk 2011 – “Planting Seeds of Food Sovereignty”

Famine Walk Leader Gary Whitedeer. Photo by Derek Speirs
Famine Walk Leader Juan Carlos Contreras. Photo by Derek Speirs
Justine Nantale. Photo by Derek Speirs

Afri would like to thank the brave one hundred and fifty people or so who joined us on the stormy Saturday, 21st May to complete our Annual Famine Walk! Thanks also to all those who supported us by getting sponsorship or by giving a donation.

Continue reading “Famine Walk 2011 – “Planting Seeds of Food Sovereignty””

Irish-Choctaw Famine Link

Gary Whitedeer, Choctaw, is an internationally known painter, tribal chanter and dance leader who has represented the Irish-Choctaw link on many occasions.

The Irish-Choctaw Famine Link originated when the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s donation was given in 1847 and reported in the Arkansas Intelligencer. The amount was $170 and is acknowledged as having been received by the Irish Relief Committee, New York (a branch of the Society of Friends (Quakers), on 19th May 1847.

What makes the Choctaw donation so remarkable is the fact that just 16 years earlier they had been forcibly removed from their ancestral lands in Mississippi to a reservation in Oklahoma.

The Choctaw were the first of the south eastern Native American Indians to be forced onto what became known as ‘The Trail of Tears’ and during the removal they lost almost half of their people. Continue reading “Irish-Choctaw Famine Link”

Famine Walk 2010 – ‘Hunger in a World of Plenty: Sowing Seeds of Hope’

Afri would like to thank the hundreds of people who joined us on a wonderful sunny day for our 22nd Annual Famine Walk from Doolough to Louisburgh on Saturday, 22 May.

The walk leaders Justin Kilcullen of Trócaire, Felicity Lawrence, writer and journalist for the Guardian, and Jo Newton of the Irish Seed Savers Association opened the event with short reflections on the walk theme: Hunger in a World of Plenty: Sowing Seeds of Hope.

The various speakers outlined how the injustices that led to the Irish Great Famine continue today in terms of unequal global food distribution and the way in which multinational companies increasingly control agriculture and the food processing system, while small farmers and food producers struggle to survive. A linking thread was that food insecurity will continue and intensify today unless we tackle issues such as loss of biodiversity, global warming, corporate control of food production, and the patenting and aggressive marketing of genetically modified seeds.

Afri Famine Walk 2010 from Dave Donnellan on Vimeo.

Continue reading “Famine Walk 2010 – ‘Hunger in a World of Plenty: Sowing Seeds of Hope’”