The Annual Famine Walk from Doolough to Louisburgh took place on May 19th 2012.
The famine walk commemorates a tragedy that occurred during the height of the terrible Famine Years 1845-1849 in Ireland. In early spring of 1847, almost 400 starving adults and children walked 10 miles from Louisburgh to Doolough in search of a Board of Guardians who were to meet in Delphi Lodge. They had been given this direction from the Relieving officer in Louisburgh as they sought food or a ticket to the workhouse. The weather was terrible with wind and hail beating down upon them. When they arrived in Delphi the Guardians refused them food or their tickets to the workhouse. Needless to say many of them perished on the return journey as fatigue and exhaustion from hunger took hold. Some of those that had energy to start the journey back to Louisburgh were swept into the lake by the heavy squalls. Many were buried where they had fallen if there was enough soil to cover them.
Afri (Action from Ireland) volunteered to get involved with this Famine Walk back in June 1988. Afri work on behalf of the poor and unjustly treated all over the world. It was in 1988 as part of the 150th anniversary of “The Great Famine in Ireland”, that Afri decided to remember our past history and awaken us to the fact that in our modern world of plenty, famine was still part of daily life for some. It organised events all over Ireland to “motivate people to try and address the injustices and inequalities that continue to create similar problems for millions of people throughout the world today”.
Afri continued to make the trip to Louisburgh part of that sharing of stories and experiences connecting with the modern life. 2012 is a celebration of 25 years of involvement of Afri with the area of Louisburgh. We have seen many different guest speakers add their weight and support to the project over the years through their participation in the Famine Walk by addressing the crowd before making their way through the Doolough valley and on to Louisburgh. The weather has been very varied through out the years also.
“Famine it must be understood is but the tip of the iceberg which acutely exposes an appalling mass of human suffering and misery, caused by the denial of basic and fundamental human rights”. Don Mullan, former Director of Afri Great Famine Project at the launch of Afri’s first Famine Walk in Louisburgh June 1988.
“If we can turn those tragedies round that’s the way the circle can be completed, because that’s the way it 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 White Deer of the Choctaw Nation talking about his people’s contribution to the Irish people during the famine and also his involvement with Afri and Concern 1995. Representatives of the Choctaw Nation also led the Famine Walk in 1990.
Mary O’Malley gratefully acknowledges Afri’s permission to reproduce this information taken from Afri’s Famine Book “Famine is a Lie”, published 1995, Afri’s commemorative booklet for the first Famine Walk published 1988, and the cover of booklet from “Famine Walk 2011”.
For more information log onto http://www.afri.ie/
To view the Famine Walk Art Project by pupils from Killeen NS click here.
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