This year’s Féile Bríde notice comes to you with the unsurprising news that we will not be able to gather this February in the lovely surrounds of Solas Bhríde in Kildare. We will miss the fáilte and the hospitality that we’ve experienced from our Brigidine friends and Cáirde Bríde, there – and elsewhere in Kildare – every year since our first event, Brigid, Prophetess, Earthwoman, Peacemaker, back in 1993.
On May 16th at 7pm – the day on which the annual Doolough Famine Walk was due to take place, Afri will host a virtual Famine Walk Forum with distinguished guest speakers, great conversation and live music. Our host will be campaigner and author Ruairí McKiernan. He will be joined by renowned violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire, harpist Emer Lynam and singer-songwriters RoJ Whelan and Paul O’Toole, as well as guest speakers including Emeritus Professor John Maguire, author and Lecturer Dr Clare O’Grady Walshe, MASI member Donnah Vuma and student climate activist Gráinne Malone.
“I became a vegetarian and I started using ‘Ecosia’ as my search engine”, was how Keziah Keenan O’Shea, one of the youngest ever speakers at Féile Bríde described her response to becoming aware of the urgent threat posed by climate change. Keziah was one of two students from Mount Temple School, with which Afri had worked in advance of the Paris Climate Change Conference in order to send a message to world leaders on young people’s concerns about the welfare of our planet.
Short film by RoJ
The other student was Ruairí Atack, who spoke about the link between climate change and militarisation – an often missed link in public discourse. Ruairí spoke about the” incredible levels” of military spending – $1747 billion worth in 2014. The military impact of this was shown in a recent report in the Guardian newspaper stating that: “The Iraq war was responsible for 141m tonnes of carbon releases in its first four years… On an annual basis, this was more than the emissions from 139 countries in this period, or about the same as putting an extra 25m cars on to US roads for a year.” Continue reading “A Time of Opportunity: Reflections from Féile Bríde 2016”
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”
Food Sovereignty, Global Warming and Resisting Militarism
Saturday, May 16th 2015
From Delphi Lodge to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo.
Registration from 12.45pm; Walk beginning at 1.30pm
Walk Leaders: Abjata Khalif (Kenya), Maitet Ledesma (Philippines) and Sharon Staples (Wales)
Music: RoJ Whelan
Please park cars in Louisburgh: no parking available at Delphi Lodge – a shuttle bus will be provided.
Many themes have been explored in the Famine Walk over the past 27 years. The Philippines was the focus of the first ever famine walk as Niall O’Brien, recently released from prison, outlined the experience of living under the Marcos military dictatorship. Significantly, the Philippines is again a focus of this year’s walk as Maitet Ledesma updates us on the current situation there, with particular reference to the devastating impacts of militarism and global warming.
The issue of food and famine has always been a central theme of the walk, as it is this year. As nations continue to turn to war as a first resort, in many cases, food security is further threatened, global warming is intensified and corporate control of food is extended, despite the fact that small-scale producers remain the mainstay of global food supplies. Food sovereignty is the common ground on which the realities and hopes of many of these small producers meet. Continue reading “Famine Walk 2015: Food Sovereignty, Global Warming and Resisting Militarism”
Report by Genny Bove
The Craic Will be 90
It wasn’t the greatest start to a weekend. First there was a text about RoJ getting a flat tyre on the way to the ferry and then, when we were on the road heading south from Wrexham, a crisis call. I pulled over into the old station at Welshpool to take it. Joe Murray was on the ferry from Rosslare as planned with Nuala Kelly and Andy Cummins, but all four musicians in the party had been left behind on the quay (thanks to some misinformation given out by Irish Ferries staff who had promised there was plenty of time before the gates closed when there wasn’t) and the next sailing wasn’t due in til after midnight, too late for the Shamrock Bar gig planned for that evening. There was nothing to be done except put out some calls for local musicians to step in and hope that Joe could at least persuade the stranded ones to rebook on the ferry and arrive in time for Saturday night. The atmosphere in the car was subdued as we continued on our way, wondering how things were going to work out and whether the musicians might have just given up and gone home. We needn’t have worried. After about an hour, a text came through from RoJ: they were on their way back to Dublin, would catch the afternoon ferry to Holyhead, drive down to Fishguard from there – a five hour journey – and would be with us by 11pm. Cryptically, he added: “The craic will be 90.”
“What’s that about?” asked Eimear.
“No idea. Bet it’s a song lyric.”
Eimear looked it up and we began to worry that they might be tempted to catch the Isle of Man Steam Packet instead and all end up in Douglas. Continue reading “Manning Truthfest in Wales”
Report by Genny Bove
The Irish greeting Céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes) is no exaggeration. Over in Dublin from Wales again for a few days, this time with Chelsea Manning’s Mum Susan, we are once again experiencing the extraordinary hospitality, warmth and staunch solidarity of our friends here, and it’s wonderful.
Thursday night we gathered at the Teachers’ Club in central Dublin for an evening gathering Resisting Injustice organised by Afri to remember the late, great Gerry Conlon who met and offered his support to Chelsea’s family and who spoke so eloquently against injustice and for Chelsea Manning last November, just a few months before his untimely death from cancer this June.
Donal O’Kelly, the creative force behind January’s Manning Truthfest, was MC for the night. Donal has helped keep the cause in the public eye in myriad ways, most recently dedicating the World’s Best Radio Show award for his play Francisco to Chelsea Manning.
The first speaker was Nuala Kelly, whose talk drew on her extensive experience of supporting Irish prisoners in overseas jails. She recounted how she had at first been more aware of Giuseppe Conlon’s arrest back in 1975 than that of his son Gerry but how later, in her work with the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, she became involved in supporting Gerry and his family in their quest for justice. Nuala emphasised the impact on families when a person is imprisoned and the importance of offering support and working alongside families. She described how the campaign to free the Guildford Four, Maguire Seven and Birmingham Six started to gain momentum, with local groups little by little getting involved and taking their own solidarity initiatives, such as a women’s group organising street stalls in central Dublin. If we are going to build an effective campaign to free Chelsea, we need to find ways to engage as many people as possible as well as being mindful of the perspectives of both the prisoner and her family. Continue reading “Remembering Gerry Conlon, Supporting Chelsea Manning”
A Memorial evening for Gerry Conlon in solidarity with Chelsea Manning, Thursday 11th September, 7pm in the Teachers’ Club, Dublin 1
Entrance on a donation basis – To book tickets: click here
Gerry Conlon of the Guilford Four, a victim of the one of the most serious miscarriages of justice in recent history, devoted much of his life on his release from prison, to campaigning on behalf of other prisoners and highlighting human rights abuses worldwide.
In November 2013, Gerry spoke at an event in Trinity College in solidarity with whistleblower Chelsea Manning who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for revealing the truth about the war in Iraq. The meeting in November was attended by hundreds of people including the family of Chelsea Manning. Gerry Conlon spoke movingly about his own experiences, the courage of Chelsea Manning and the importance of whistleblowers in revealing miscarriages of justice. This address will feature as part of the Memorial evening, and will include a reflection on Gerry Conlon by human rights campaigner Nuala Kelly. It will also include contributions from leading musicians and actors such as Joe Black, Simon Meyler, Sorcha Fox, RoJ Whelan, Donal O’Kelly and more!
Entrance by donation. Donations from the event will go to the Manning Family Fund.
To book tickets: click here
See also our facebook event page
Having hosted the Manning Family during their momentous visit to Ireland, Afri was delighted to continue that support for the Manning Truthfest – ‘the return fixture’ – in Wales on the 10th to 12th January 2014.
Donal O’Kelly had met the family, heard their story and, never one to miss an opportunity for offering support and solidarity, came up with the wonderful idea of the Manning Truthfest. This was a voyage of discovery in many ways as musicians and artists were contacted and assembled, car pools sorted and the ferry crossing arranged. From the moment we gathered this group of artists seemed imbued with a special spirit.
On arrival, we were warmly welcomed by Genny and the family, provided with excellent accommodation and from then on it was non-stop music. Despite the harrowing nature and the brutal treatment of Chelsea Manning there is much to celebrate in a life marked by courage and truth and it was appropriate that this Truthfest was awash with the sounds of music, song, poetry, drama, dance and drumbeat.
Thank you to all who made it possible.
For a full report of the visit, go here: http://manningfamilyfund.org/2014/01/14/manning-truthfest-report-part-1/
This weekend 10-11 January 2014 a gang of Irish musicians, performers and activists will travel to west Wales to present not one, not two, but three events in support of whistleblower and US prisoner Chelsea (Bradley) Manning and her mum and family members in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.
Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year jail sentence in the US for releasing what was judged to be classified information. It included film of a murderous US helicopter gunship attack on civilians in Baghdad that killed 12 and seriously injured two children. The perpetrators of that crime walk free.
Chelsea Manning’s grandfather Billy Fox emigrated from Rathmines Dublin to Wales in 1948. So Afri invited Chelsea’s family from Wales to Dublin two months ago. His mum Susan, aunts Sharon and Mary, and his uncle Kevin made many friends during that visit, some of whom are among the return visitors to Wales this weekend taking part in The Manning Truthfest in Fishguard and Haverfordwest. Continue reading “Irish Culture Gang Storms Wales with the Manning Truthfest”