At Afri’s 2020 Féile Bríde gathering, former Chelsea flower show winner, Mary Reynolds, issued an urgent call to all to become guardians of our planet and of all living species.
Afri’s Feile Bride event for 2020 was entitled ‘Rekindling; Revitalising; Rewilding and Restoring’ and was set in the context of the need for urgent action on climate change. Over recent years, many people, of all ages, are getting actively involved in fighting for change. This was reflected at the conference, where we heard from a number of mature activists who have been around for some time but also from Ruby Jo, who set up “There is no planet B” as an 11 year old activist! This shows that we can all be involved in action to tackle climate change – as Greta Thunberg says ‘no-one is too small to make a difference’. This was the 28th year of tending the Brigid flame in Kildare, which as Rita Minehan explained, was lit at the first Afri Conference in 1993 and burns as a “beacon of hope, peace and justice.” It was noted, that one of the trademarks of those who attend Féile Bríde is a spirit of positivity and hope, and a determination, no matter what, to keep on working for a better world for all.
At the beginning of the event we had beautiful music from Cormac Breatnach, Steve Cooney, Emer Lynam and Roger Whelan.
The first speaker of the day was Clare O’Grady Walshe, who recently published her book “Globalisation and Seed Sovereignty in Sub-Saharan Africa”. Clare spoke about why seed diversity matters for our food supply because crops can get wiped out by disease and climate change, which can lead to hunger and death.
“Farming has become an attack on nature” is what our second speaker, Mary Reynolds stated. She spoke about how we need to be aware of biodiversity and habitat loss. She founded a movement called We are the Ark – Ark standing for Acts of Restorative Kindness. This happens when a green space is allowed to grow freely, so it can restore itself back to the way it was.
Our third speaker Nelly McLaughlin explained that “every day is earth day.” Nelly spoke about Green Sod Ireland which works with local communities to restore habitats and enhance biodiversity. In some cases, land has been given to Green Sod Ireland where it is held in trust for the future welfare of people and planet. “We live in a planet of abundance, not scarcity”, she said.
After lunch, we had wonderful lively and energetic music from the Dublin Ukulele Collective, which had the participants on their feet to the sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Bad Moon Rising’ among other classics.
Ruby-Jo then spoke about “There is no planet B” – a club that she and her friend Isabella set up when they were in fourth class. Ruby-Jo wants to inspire others to stand together to make a change and raise awareness of climate change. She certainly inspired those of us lucky enough to hear her speak on February 8th.
Shivam O’Brien then spoke about how he was involved in allowing 200 acres of Welsh forest to return to its wild nature. This is an extraordinary example of what can happen when land is allowed to heal and restore itself. See a clip of the work they do here.
Micheal Long of Cabragh Wetlands was our final speaker and said that “each person’s awareness is important”. He explained how wetlands are rich in biodiversity. And how the Wetlands where he works have up to 15 different habitats including ponds, reed swamps, hedgerows, streams and wild flower meadows. It is frequented by walkers, photographers, artists, families and children in search of knowledge. It is a great place to educate future generations about the importance of conservation, preservation and biodiversity.
The day concluded with RoJ Whelan singing the great Pete St John song about Climate Change – ‘Waltzing on Borrowed Time’ – including the verse:
“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”
Adapted from report written by Katelyn Lyons.
Féile Bríde 2019 will take place in Solas Bhríde on Saturday, February 9th with Registration at 9.50. The theme of this year’s Féile is Education, Action, Compassion, Hope.
Education, (including self-education) is an essential dimension of transformative action; and compassion in all we do has never been more necessary. Our speakers this year embody all of these vital qualities.
Richard Moore, whose living example of compassion is such that the Dalai Lama calls him his hero, will speak about ‘Education the Heart’ in the context of his extraordinary story. Caoimhe de Barra has devoted her energies to pursuing justice and human rights, as Michael Doorly has directed his to promoting global education and equity. Kay Mulhall personifies the spirit and aim of the Brigidines ‘to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and seek to build a more inclusive community.’ While Meghan Carmody represents a new generation of activists with passion and determination to see our world transformed.
Such people and actions – as well as Laoise Kelly’s magical music – bring us hope, the vital antidote to cynicism and despair. A new year, a new spring and a renewed sense of purpose can see us decisively turn the tide in 2019.
Afri’s 2018 Féile Bríde took place on Saturday 3rd February in Solas Bhríde in Kildare town. It was a rich and full day with contributions from Peadar Kirby about caring for our global village, Hanny Van Geel (Via Campesina), Rose Hogan (Trócaire) on ‘food for life’, John Maguire on ‘Peace Meal Change’ and wrongfully imprisoned Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle, as well as music and poetry. You can get a flavour of the day in a short film made by RoJ.
Here is a report from Sr Patricia Mulhall, who attended the conference:
This is the twenty-sixth year of another well-attended Afri conference hosted at Solas Bhríde Centre, Kildare. As visiting speaker, Peadar Kirby named it, the Ard fheis of Afri. Some 200 people attended in the beautiful setting of the Centre & Hermitages, a centre of hospitality, brightness radiating a warm welcome. Brigidines – Mary, Phil and Rita – organise and manage the Centre with Cairde Bhríde, faithful friends and staff.
‘Light out of Darkness’ was a fitting theme for a day punctuated by music and message of hope. Speakers with academic presentations and personal stories enlightened and entertained the participants. The day began with a presentation from Peadar Kirby, entitled ‘Caring for our Global village.’ Peadar is Professor Emeritus of International Politics and Public Policy in the University of Limerick, Ireland. He is associated with the eco-village of Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary, a 67-acre site with 50 acres of land for allotments, farming and woodland as well as 50 low- energy homes. (more…)
Saturday 3rd February 2018
Solas Bhríde, Kildare Town
Registration at 10.20am
“Life has given me many challenges, which I choose to take as opportunities to learn and grow. This is my choice. I learned this on death row. I chose life, health, forgiveness, and love. That choice saved me from bitterness and hatred that would have destroyed me from within. I have dedicated myself to an end to violence – in all its forms. This is the way I honour the lives that were sacrificed along the way. This is the way I give back to the universe. Love is the answer. Fear is the enemy. We must choose the world we want and work towards making it happen every day in our own lives.”
These are the inspiring words of death row survivor, Sunny Jacobs, whose life reads like a Shakespearean tragedy, with injustice heaped upon further injustice, creating circumstances that would have crushed many people. An innocent woman wrongfully convicted of murder, her husband was executed, she lost other family members and she spent many years awaiting her own execution. But Sunny came shining through it all with dignity, strength, courage, compassion and hope. She is the perfectly encapsulation of this year’s Féile Bríde’s theme: ‘light out of darkness’.
Sunny and Peter Pringle, the last person to have been on death row in Ireland, have devoted themselves to promoting healing, peace and reconciliation. Together they have established The Sunny Centre – a sanctuary for others who suffer injustice, especially people who are wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit and have spent time under sentence of death. We will hear their extraordinary stories at Féile Bríde this year.
Other speakers include the distinguished academic and activist Peadar Kirby, who plays a leading role in the Cloughjordan Eco-Village; UCC Professor Emeritus and life-long peace activist John Maguire; Hanny Van Geel of La Via Campesina, which promotes the rights of peasant communities around the world, and who describes herself as ‘rooted in farming’; and Rose Hogan who has a life-long commitment to agro-ecology and sustainable agriculture.
In a world marred by war and the woeful destruction of our exquisite planet, Féile Bríde is but one example of the many, many people and groups throughout our world who hope for and work towards a better future, a more just world and for the light to overcome the darkness.
And as the Spring birdsong heralds the end of another winter, we will also have music because, as Hans Christian Anderson said, “where words fail, music speaks”.
10.45am Fáilte, Solas agus Ceol: welcome, light & music
11.00pm Caring for our Global Village – Peadar Kirby
12.00pm Food for Life – Hanny Van Geel & Rose Hogan
1.00pm Lunch and tree planting
2.00pm Peace Meal Change– John Maguire
2.50pm Tea break
3.15pm Light out of Darkness
The Sunny Centre
To see who’s going on facebook go here.
Afri’s Féile Bríde conference is part of a week long events being held in Kildare organised by the Brigidine Sisters and Cairde Bríde. For information about the other events that week visit the Solas Bhríde website or download their programme Feile Bride Programme.
When we look at the many problems confronting our world, we can sometimes think that things are worse than ever and that little progress has been made towards creating a more just and compassionate world. But it is important that we keep in mind the progress made, as well as the challenges that continue to face us.
When we held our first Féile Bríde in 1988, apartheid was still in place in South Africa, the conflict in the North of Ireland was still raging with nightly reports of deaths and injuries and East Timor was under the jack boot of Indonesian occupation. (more…)
White Silence Equals Violence: Awaiting a Verdict
by Kathy Kelly
January 25, 2017
This morning, here in Minneapolis, I’ll learn whether six jurors believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Dan Wilson and I are criminals. The court case stems from an action protesting the execution of Jamar Clark, age 24, who died in the early morning of November 15, 2015 outside a north Minneapolis apartment complex. Two Minneapolis police officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze, were involved in the shooting. Jamar Clark died after a bullet was fired directly into his head. Several witnesses say that he was handcuffed and motionless when he was shot dead. The police officers have been cleared of all charges and are back on the job.
Dan and I are among 25 defendants charged with obstructing a Minneapolis Metro transit vehicle on April 11, the opening day of the Minnesota Twins baseball season. The Legal Rights Center lawyers working with us arranged a calendar so that small groups would be tried weekly. Earlier this month, two people were acquitted of all charges and one person has been convicted. Two days ago, Andrew Gordon and Priyanka Premo, lawyers from the Minneapolis Legal Rights Center who are representing Dan and me, began the jury selection process. Yesterday, evidence was presented and the six-person jury was asked to determine a verdict. The jury didn’t arrive at a verdict last night. We felt grateful they are not rushing to judgement on what many would see as a cut and dry case. The prosecution presented, as evidence, a photo of me standing, arms linked with others, in front of a bus. (more…)
Among the issues to be explored at this year’s conference will be forced migration – the inevitable consequence of war and climate change.
Speakers will include distinguished peace activist and author Kathy Kelly and Scottish writer and campaigner Alastair McIntosh. Find out more in our brochure.
To see who’s going on facebook go here.
Saturday 6th February in Solas Bhríde, Kildare Town
The recent Climate Conference in Paris, while lacking binding commitments, marked a milestone in terms of governments of the world coming together and recognising the seriousness of the situation and the need to tackle climate change. Even more important, in advance of, and during, the conference an unprecedented demonstration of people power was witnessed. Post-Paris it is clear that this people power needs to continue and grow, that it is up to citizens of the world, we the people, to take responsibility and ‘be the change we want to see in the world’. This is a time of opportunity and Féile Bríde will explore what can be done – and what is already being done – by ordinary people to save our planet. (more…)
Imagination and celebration were the order of the day at our 22nd annual Féile Bríde gathering in Kildare. ‘Occupy the imagination’ was the theme and the new Solas Bhríde a cause for celebration – built with the utmost attention to detail, as explained by Rita Minehan, in the teeth of the recession – a prizewinning example of a sustainable building in the heart of the Curragh. Warmth and welcome is added in abundance by Mary, Phil, Rita and members of Cairde Bríde who continue the tradition of hospitality for which Brigid was renowned.
Bruce Kent and Colin Archer, who have devoted most of their lives to promoting peace and – daringly – to the abolition of war, gave dynamic and thought provoking presentations on the extent to which ‘the world is over armed and peace is underfunded’. Bruce, who is in his 8th decade is an inspiration, with his indomitable spirit, his great sense of humour and his constant commitment to the cause of peace.
Film of Féile Bríde by RoJ
The essence of Bruce’s presentation was that ‘unless war is eliminated, the human race will be’ and so he has founded the Movement for the Abolition of War. This may seem like a far-fetched idea but so did the elimination of the slave trade when small groups of Abolitionists met in various parts of the world in the 17th century. (Of course we now have a new slave trade in the form of human trafficking but – unlike the slave trade – it is generally regarded as the odious crime that it is).
Emanuela Russo spoke about the urgent need to wrest control of food production from the hands of profit-driven, environmentally destructive corporations and to establish food sovereignty, defined as “the right of people to grow and consume food that is socially, culturally, ecologically and economically appropriate to local conditions.” She went on to say: “the current global food system creates hunger and obesity at the same time. There are 900 million hungry people in the world and almost the same amount of obese people. One of the reasons why this is happening is that all around the world, more and more food systems are controlled by big corporations and agribusinesses with the support of national governments and international institutions (such as IMF and WB, WTO), these food systems regard food as a commodity and their main goal is not to feed the people but to make profit.” (more…)
Former speaker at Féile Bríde, Kathy Kelly has just begun a 3-month prison term, having been arrested when she went to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base Missouri, which operates drones over Afghanistan.
Here is an update from Voices for Creative Nonviolence, the organisation of which Kathy is the Co-ordinator:-
Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kathy Kelly will turn herself in to the federal prison camp in Lexington, KY on Friday, January 23. She will begin serving a three-month sentence for her June 1, 2014 protest of drone killings at Whiteman Air Force Base, in Missouri.
Kelly asserts that drone warfare jeopardizes the security of ordinary people and that the U.S. Constitution protects her right to assemble peaceably for redress of grievance. She was arrested when she went with Georgia Walker and other activists to the gates of Whiteman Air Force Base to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of the base, which operates drones over Afghanistan. At her trial in December, Federal Magistrate Matt Whitworth found her guilty and sentenced her to three months. (more…)
‘Another world is possible’ – A simple and confident expression of an ability to step outside the existing paradigm and imagine an alternative! This ability to imagine, to voice the imagined, and to take action to manifest it, is a wonderful gift and holds the potential to a life well spent; a seed full of potential for change. Whether it be in the small fields of power within which we operate on a day-to-day basis or whether the net of imagination is cast farther to embrace other fields and other people, the role of the imagination in creating change is a vital one.
Speakers at this year’s Féile Bríde include those who similarly inhabit their dreams and make them visible. Bruce Kent, a name synonymous with peace-making and founder of an organisation that challenges the military mindset of countless generations, the Movement for the Abolition of War; Colin Archer of the International Peace Bureau, another life-long peace activist who similarly and consistently presents the kind of world that would be possible if we stopped sacrificing life in its many forms to the god of war and chose instead to put our focus and energy into the protection of life; Emanuela Russo, member of the Via Campesina and founding member of Food Sovereignty Ireland, by word and example occupies the imagined world where food production is in the hands of the people in respectful alliance with Mother Earth; And Salome Mbugua, working to bring about the world she dreams of in common with Brigid where justice, peace and human rights are upheld and hospitality is a belief in practice.
We invite you to join with us; to bring along your dreams and to add your voices to the dreamers’ discourse. Together, let’s ‘occupy the Imagination’ and discover what great changes we can help bring into being. (more…)
This year’s Féile Bríde aimed to mark the issues of “Life: Source or Resource-Enslavement versus sovereignty.” The day started with the beautiful music of harpist Fionnuala Gill as the Brigid flame was carried into the conference hall. The event made connections across borders, nations and nationalities, attracting speakers and partners from East Africa to the West of Ireland, in order to tackle together the unequal distribution of resources and the threats to food sovereignty.
Speakers included Afri’s partner Abjata Khalif of the Kenyan pastoralist Journalist Network, Fergal Anderson a small farmer from the west of Ireland, veteran writer and campaigner on issues of human trafficking, Donal Dorr, and Mia De Faoite, a survivor of prostitution speaking from her experience. (more…)
Pete Mullineaux, poet and dramatist, read out some of his poems at Afri’s Féile Bríde on Saturday 8th February in Kildare. These poems are republished here with his permission.
Zen Traffic Lights
Thank you red dragon
for teaching patience and humility,
so I may observe the green tiger
And thank you red dragon
for showing joy in the moment;
so I will ride the green tiger
with enhanced pleasure.
And thank you red dragon
for reflecting my rage, mirrored
in calm cool green waters
that’s enough now,
THANK YOU! (more…)
Féile Bríde 2014 will take place on Saturday 8th February in the Osborne Centre in Kildare town. The title of this year’s Féile Bríde is “Life: Source or Resource – Enslavement versus Sovereignty”.
Féile Bríde 2014 will look at issues of life, light and liberty with perspectives from our partner Abjata Khalif of the Kenya Pastoralist Journalists Network; from Fergal Anderson linking food sovereignty issues locally and globally, as a ‘small farmer’ from the West of Ireland; and Donal Dorr will be joined by a woman with personal knowledge of the issue of human trafficking to explore the meaning of slavery, sovereignty and sustenance. (more…)
Signs of hope and causes for optimism are still to be found amid the bleak picture often presented on the daily news. Despite the realities of war, climate change and hunger, we can find hope and inspiration in those who continue to resist, to struggle, to challenge, and even to celebrate.
Imbolc, the ancient Irish festival that marks the beginning of spring, is almost upon us. It represents a time of new beginnings after the long, dark winter. In Irish tradition, people celebrated this time on February 1st, and honoured Brigid, who was noted in legend as a strong and fearless leader that carried a torch for peace, truth and justice. (more…)
Film of the 2013 Féile Bríde, “Dreaming for the Earth: Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change” made by Dave Donnellan
A short report on “Dreaming for the Earth: Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change”, Afri’s 2013 Féile Bríde conference held on the 2nd February in Kildare
Afri’s 2013 Féile Bríde, “Dreaming for the Earth: Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change” was held in the new venue of the Osborne Centre, which is beautifully surrounded by a lake and native Irish trees. This year the conference was aimed at tackling climate change, and opened with John Feehan, an expert on the Curragh, giving the history and uses of the Curragh, and then bringing the participants to the Curragh to explore the landscape for themselves. John strongly encouraged locals interested in preserving this public space, to consider forming a taskforce to care for the Curragh, in particular, to tackle the rampant furze.
Féile Bríde 2013
Dreaming for the Earth: Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change
Saturday 2nd February, Osborne Centre, Kildare
The wonder and awesome beauty of our planet is also a reminder of her fragility, uniqueness and the urgent need to protect her. Our planet home is blessed with sufficient abundance to care for all but is increasingly reeling and groaning from relentless exploitation and abuse.
Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, describes his experience of seeing the Earth from space: “suddenly from behind the rim of the Moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is Earth…home.”
Saturday 4th February 2012, Kildare Town
At the start of Afri’s Feile Bride, the pupils of Coláiste Éinde, under the direction of Pete Mullineaux, staged a remarkable drama that asked the question “what if?”. What if the world was organised differently, in a spirit of cooperation and compromise rather than of conflict and greed? I was reminded of a story told about the Irish revolutionary Peadar O’Donnell, who wrote an article critical of his erstwhile colleague Eamon De Valera and his record in government, especially the fact that half a million people emigrated from Ireland under De Valera’s stewardship. The story goes that De Valera rang O’Donnell to protest, claiming that had O’Donnell been Taoiseach half a million people would still have emigrated. To which O’Donnell replied, “Yes, Eamon, but not the same half million”. I like to think of the very different Ireland we might have now if those who had left had been able to stay, and if those we could have most done without had departed: what if? (more…)