Donegal Famine Walk: A Portal of Hope

Rosemary Grain
Rosemary Grain

Whenever Rosemary Grain looks out her office window, she steps through a time portal. Below her third storey office, hungry families once gathered holding half a crown. A bag was lowered from the window, and the coin was placed inside. Then food was lowered back down through the same window. Why the bag? So workers wouldn’t catch Famine fever.

Now called The Yard, previously Mc Carthy’s store, the building in Falcarragh where Rosemary works was once a Famine storehouse. “The starving waited anxiously at a spot near the front door for the food to be lowered in a bag from where my office is on the top floor. Those distributing the food were terrified of catching any diseases from the poor famine victims of the parish. I often look out the window and think of the desperation our ancestors must have gone through.and how fortunate we are to live here now,”  says Rosemary, administrator and Information worker at The Yard, which houses Pobail le Cheile Community Development (LCDP).

At the end of this month, the old Famine storehouse will host “In the Footsteps of our Ancestors” a Famine commemoration walk, which will leave from The Yard and head to the Workhouse Museum in Dunfanaghy. “It’s a great way to commemorate the famine. The involvement of Waylon Gary White Deer is very symbolic because Choctaw Indians, sent money to the Irish during the famine.  The Choctaws themselves had suffered great tragedy, having been displaced from their homelands and forced to move to Oklahoma in the 1830s – the infamous Trail of Tears. They sent $174 to Ireland.” Rosemary adds.  Continue reading “Donegal Famine Walk: A Portal of Hope”

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”