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Remembering the Rising at the Doolough famine walk


Áine Ryan

REMEMBERING and commemorating acts of resistance both in Ireland and abroad have been key themes of the annual Doolough Famine Walk since it inception 29 years ago. So there is a particular poignancy to this year’s walk from Delphi Lodge to Louisburgh on Saturday next, May 21, as events and exhibitions marking the 1916 Easter Rising have had a defining impact throughout the country.
A perennial theme too has always been the importance of ‘solidarity’ and this year’s walk leaders include Palestinian poet and activist Rafeef Ziadah, described by film Director Ken Loach as ‘powerful, emotional and political…whose poetry demands to be heard’.
He will be joined by José Francisco Calí Tzay, a Kaqchikel Maya from Guatemala and founder of a number of indigenous, peasant and human rights organisations in his native country. Dunnes Stores striker against apartheid (1984), Cathryn O’Reilly and environmentalist and activist Clare O’Grady Walshe will complete the line-up of leaders.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday, longtime Afri organiser, Joe Murray said: “This annual walk has always underlined the importance of remembering such significant moments in our history. While the walk examines the causes and effects of famine, the Food Sovereignty Assembly, now in its third year, asks ‘how do we resolve the issue?’.”
Murray explains that for the past two years Afri (Action From Ireland) – in partnership with Food Sovereignty Ireland and with the support of Trócaire – has hosted a food Sovereignty Assembly on the eve of the long established famine walk. This year’s Food Sovereignty Assembly will be held in Westport’s Town Hall Theatre on Friday afternoon next, from 2pm to 6pm.  

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Doolough Famine Walk
On March 30, 1849 hundreds of starving famine victims, who trekked through the haunting Doolough Valley, in search of certification as ‘paupers’ and Indian meal, were turned away from Delphi Lodge. Many of them died on their return journey, some were blown into Doolough by a biting and belligerent wind they were so emaciated and weak. The walk follows in the footsteps of these desperate people from Delphi Lodge, once owned by the Marquis Of Sligo, to Louisburgh. Registration in Louisburgh at 12.45pm next Saturday, May 21.(€20 per adult participant)