The 35th annual Famine Walk will take place via the Doolough Valley in County Mayo on Saturday, May 20th. Continue reading “35 years on the road for unique Mayo Famine Walk”
We were delighted to have Pete St John on hand to introduce his great song about climate change – “Waltzing on Borrowed Time” – on the 2019 Famine Walk. ‘Waltzing on Borrowed Time” was performed by Imogen, Sinead and Rose and accompanied by dancers from the locally-based Cresham Academy.
The song includes the following great lyrics:
“Across the world in every land, let a new awareness grow
that nations must protect the earth
As the seeds of hope we sow
A hope, a dream, a way of life when man and nature rhyme
And creatures of the earth won’t need to waltz on borrowed time”
Walk leaders Oisín Coughlan from Friends of the Earth and Hanny Van Geel from ‘La Via Campesina’ expanded on this theme. Oisin pointed out that the Dáil had passed a Bill declaring a climate emergency and, following the ‘green wave’ in the recent elections now needed to take urgent action to tackle this emergency. Among these actions is the urgent need to stop issuing licences for further exploration of fossil fuels off the coast of Ireland.
Hanny pointed out the urgent need to support sustainable means of food production rather than allowing control of the food we eat to be more completely controlled by corporations whose only concern is profit. Walkers were then ferried to Delphi Lodge, where we planted a tree before setting off for Louisburgh. Tea and coffee was provided along the route by Glenkeen Farm and as usual, we gathered in Teach na n-Ól in the evening for more music, chat and conversation.
- Registration takes place in the local town hall in Louisburgh.
- This will be followed by the opening ceremony — a very important part of the Famine Walk experience.
- Shuttle buses will take participants to the start point, following the opening ceremony.
- The walk is 11 miles (approx.), walkers should walk on the left-hand side.
- A shuttle car will be available during the walk for anyone who gets into difficulty.
- No parking is available at Delphi Lodge.
- Dogs must be kept on a lead.
- Portaloos are available along the route.
Register online here (alternatively you can raise sponsorship for Afri – just bring the sponsorship form to the registration desk on the day)
Download Brochure & Sponsorship Card
The Afri Famine Walk is a unique and highly significant annual event in Ireland. Recalling a tragic episode from An Gorta Mór, with reverence and respect, it also promotes compassion, action and solidarity with those oppressed and excluded in today’s world.
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/.
Remembering and Solidarity
Saturday 19th May, Doolough Co. Mayo
Registration from 12.45pm in Louisburgh Town hall
Beginning at 1.30pm
Walk Leaders: Richard Moore, Fatin al Tamimi
Music: Lisa Lambe
Famine Walk 1988-2018
Register online here (alternatively you can raise sponsorship for Afri – just bring this to the registration desk on the day) and see who’s going on Facebook
Saturday 19th May 2018 will see the 30th anniversary of the Doolough Famine Walk. Afri first organised the walk in 1988 to commemorate the Great Hunger of 1845-50. Regions such as Mayo illustrated how a natural setback such as potato blight can mutate to disaster in the context of unchecked market forces, lack of democratic structures and resources, and a pitiless, moralistic ideology. While some £9.5 million was eventually spent on late and poorly-designed ‘Relief’, £14 million went to sustain the military and police forces.
Our walk retraces a journey of horror which occurred on 30th/31st March 1849. Two poor-law commissioners were to assess people in Louisburgh, entitling them as ‘paupers’ to meagre relief rations. The inspection never happened, but the people were instructed to appear at Delphi Lodge at 7 the following morning. They walked the hilly road in wintry, even snowy, conditions. At Delphi Lodge they were refused food, or admission to the workhouse, and so began their weary return journey, on which many, even hundreds, died.
Afri, drawing on the local history of Louisburgh and Doolough, recalls the dead and displaced of the Great Hunger – and all those facing the same grotesque and avoidable cruelties in today’s world, from the so-called ‘War on Terror’ to the indignities of ‘Direct Provision’. We walk the famine road to remember the causes of hunger and poverty in our world – political, military, economic and environmental – and our failure to learn the lessons of our own history. Our Walk Leaders eloquently represent the spirit of resistance and transformation:
In the twentieth-anniversary year of the Good Friday Agreement we welcome Richard Moore, who was blinded as a 10-year-old child by a rubber bullet fired by a British soldier during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. He reacted by founding Children in Crossfire, declaring: “I learned to see life in a different way. I may have lost my sight, but I have my vision”.
2018 is also significant in that it marks the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, and in this context, we are honoured to welcome Fatin Al Tamimi, Chairperson of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
The extraordinary voice of Lisa Lambe will provide the music for this year’s walk. We are delighted to have Lisa as part of this year’s walk line up.
Find out about our ‘Music From A Dark Lake’ CD, a compilation of songs from past Famine Walks.
Thirty years on the ‘Famine Road’ have generated many memorable moments and iconic images. On the first walk in 1988, walk leader Donncha O Dulaing arrived by helicopter to join Niall O’Brien, recently released from prison in the Philippines, and Mayo woman Caitriona Ruane, recently returned from Central America, before leading us off on the first ‘chapter’ of this extraordinary journey.
The following year, Brian Willson, having lost both legs while attempting to stop a train delivering arms from the US to Central America, was applauded as he bravely crossed the finishing line.
Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah were almost blown away with the force of the gale that blew up when they led the walk in 1991. It helped us all to understand a little better how it would’ve been for the hungry poor of 1849.
The voices of Juana Vasquez and Dario Caal, representing the Maya from Guatemala, echoed off the mountains as they spoke at the edge of Doolough about the importance of solidarity and how they believed they were walking with the spirits of our ancestors through the sacred Doolough valley in 1995.
And then the gates of Delphi Lodge were opened to the walk in 2013. We walked through the gates solemnly carrying the names of those who had died in the tragedy of 1849 and the names of those who died of hunger in our own day, in our world of plenty. We planted an oak tree, we planted potatoes supplied by Willie Corduff of Rossport and we listened to the deeply emotional rendition of ‘Connacht Orphan’ sung by its author, Declan O’Rourke.
Join us for the 30th Walk on May 20th 2017 where more extraordinary moments are sure to be generated.
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.
- 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.
- IN THE INTEREST OF HEALTH AND SAFETY, PLEASE WALK ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE ROAD FOR THE DURATION OF THE WALK.
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.
Around thirty people gathered for Afri’s 3rd annual food sovereignty assembly, which took place in the town hall in Westport on the 20th May this year to examine food sovereignty issues and to explore what practical steps are necessary to implement the ideas of the Food sovereignty Proclamation which was agreed and posted in 2015. Among the questions discussed at this year’s event were: how can we accelerate the transition to a low carbon, fair and resilient society?; how can we produce both food and energy in ways that reduce greenhouse gases and their negative impact on the planet? Among the many suggestions was to continue to have April 24th – the actual date of the 1916 Rising – as a food sovereignty day in future years as it was this year.
Famine Walk 2016: Memory, Solidarity, Sovereignty
Saturday, May 21st, Registration from 12.45pm (€20 per adult participant)
Delphi Lodge to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo
Rafeef Ziadah (Palestine)
Francisco Cali-Tzay (Guatemala)
Clare O’Grady Walshe (Ireland)
Cathryn O’Reilly (Dunnes Stores Strike)
Music: Máirtín O Connor
(special fundraising gig for Afri with Máirtín & family in the Derrylahan, Louisburgh at 8.30pm on Saturday 21st)
By Maitet Ledesma
They called it the GREAT IRISH FAMINE. But there was nothing great about the 1850s famine in Ireland. The famine was a man-made disaster. People died of starvation because the landlords owned the land. The local population who tilled the land did not own it, and therefore, had no access to it in order to grow food to feed themselves and their families.
And while the landlords enriched themselves and lived in the lap of luxury by exporting the food produced from their land by disenfranchised peasants, more than 1 million people were left to die of starvation or disease – to put that in today’s context, an equivalent loss of around 40 million people in the US.
The population at that time was further decimated as entire families, even whole villages left the country en masse because this was their only survival option. In 1847 alone 250,000 people left the country and over a six-year period, more than 2 million were forced to migrate.
The Great Irish Famine must be remembered as the ‘Genocide Famine’ and the keepers of this collective memory, the people of Ireland, must call on those historically responsible to render just retribution. Continue reading “Reflections on the 2015 Famine Walk”