Annual Famine walk held in Mayo


WINDY AND wet conditions failed to deter hundreds of walkers who helped highlight the national and global importance of “food sovereignty” at the 24th annual Doolough Famine Walk held near Louisburgh, Co Mayo, at the weekend.

“Food sovereignty is an important theme in the context of the Great Famine but also in contemporary terms. The relevance of the ideals espoused by the food sovereignty movement is underpinned by the reality of a billion hungry people in a world of abundant food,” said organiser, Joe Murray of Afri (Action from Ireland).

“The urgency of wresting control of food from the hands of ruthless corporations is equally clear and the emergence and growth of a strong and well organised food sovereignty movement is an important development in terms of making this happen.”

He added: “The very bad weather this weekend really made us conscious of what it was like for the starving and dispirited people who, in desperate snowy conditions, originally took this walk in 1849.”

The Doolough Famine Walk commemorates the pilgrimage undertaken by hundreds of local victims of the Famine who on the night of March 30th, 1849, walked 10 miles to Delphi Lodge in the hope of receiving rations of Indian Meal from the Poor Law Guardians. They were told there was no grain and many of them died on the return journey.

Leaders at this year’s walk were Juan Contreras, a community leader from Guatemala; Westport resident Gemma Hensey of “Grow It Yourself”; and Gary Whitedeer, a Choctaw Indian whose ancestors donated €170 to Ireland during the Famine.