Walking and Remembering

I’m back after the great 6-day famine walk from Strokestown in Roscommon along the Royal canal to the quays in Dublin. This is to commemorate the 1490 people (over 1000 children among them) who walked this way to the emigrant ships after being evicted in May 1847. http://nationalfamineway.ie/ All along the way I thought about how close this story is to that of my refugee friends.

On Friday night about twenty of us went to the ‘Canadian Wake’ the farewell party in Strokestown. People were nervous at first. Then, as the stories were told of the 1490, they started to see themselves and their story.

In the morning the bailiff banged his stick on the door and ordered us out of the house. Only one man put up a fight, the rest of us shambled out, defeated, to put our pitiful few bags on the cart and to start off, who knows where. One thing is certain, we won’t see our homes again.

My feet hurt and I’ve massive blisters on both feet. It’s hard to keep walking. And I’ve good shoes and I’m not carrying a child or baby. I’m not weakened by two years of food shortage.

Here and there there are little memorial stones along the way. If you go to a website on your mobile phone it tells you a story about this place. The stories are told through the voice of Daniel Tighe, a twelve-year-old boy who walked this road with his mother, sisters and uncle in 1847.

Some volunteers and residents came to Mullingar to walk a little of the road with us. The New Horizon people were welcomed with cheers when they arrived. The piper came out at Piper’s boreen and played some tunes of farewell for us. The last sounds of home died out as we trudged on the neverending path.

On the way I thought about how many of the 1490 walkers would qualify for refugee protection today. “Being outside their country of origin and unable to return due to well-founded fear of persecution” Answer: Almost none, these were the despised “economic migrants” of today.

The Strokestown archieve is terrifying. There you can see the letters containing the calculations of death and exile. How many tenents and sub-tenants, how much money would be made by having cattle and sheep on the land instead. How many tenants are to be displaced, how much it would cost to keep them in Roscommon workhouse. Steerage fares to New York were six pounds, steerage fares to Quebec were three pounds and ten shillings. And today banks and moneylenders and political leaders make the same calculations and produce the same misery.

On the way I thought about how many of the 1490 walkers would qualify for refugee protection today. “Being outside their country of origin and unable to return due to well-founded fear of persecution” Answer: Almost none, these were the despised “economic migrants” of today. It’s easier to get protection if you are fleeing the KGB or the Gestapo, almost impossible if it’s just hunger and fever.

We walked into the docklands of Dublin through the canyons of office blocks and financial institutions. The rich, well-dressed population looked up from their phones for a moment and then rapidly looked away. There were no journalists out to record the arrival of the 1490 Strokestown people either.

We walked through the famine statues on the quay and suddenly were surrounded by ghosts.

As little Daniel said

“Suddenly we are on the North Strand Road and walk down to the city quays where the ships await us. Even though we are all so tired and our clothes our dirty, we walk with our heads up high, even little Martin who keeps a strong hold of my hand, as we pass the Royal Canal Docks where cargo is being winched off and onto ships that are all about us. Before us is the wide blue green River Liffey.

The streets and dockside are crowded, and the people of Dublin stare, curious to see such a huge crowd but some call and shout at us. ‘Go back to your own place for you are not wanted here!’

At the reception Declan O Rourke presents the anthem of the famine way, ending with the words, Remember, Remember, Remember.

 

National Famine Walk

The Irish Heritage Trust and Strokestown Park house are launching the National Famine Way walking trail with a six-day 165 km walk from Strokestown to Dublin from May 25th to May 30th 2019. The route follows the Royal canal from the Shannon river to Dublin.

This is to remember the 1490 people who walked from Strokestown to embark on emigrant ships in Dublin in May 1847. A large number of these people died either on the ships from Liverpool or on arrival in the fever sheds at Grosse Isle in Qubec.

They have kindly invited Direct Provision residents and New Horizon volunteers to participate in some or all of this walk. People can:

  • Attend the Canadian Wake in Stokestown on 24th May
  • Walk one, or more, days on the route
  • Walk all the way
  • Attend the arrival ceremony and launch of the trail at the Emigration Museum in Dublin on May 30th

This is very closely related to the terrible experiences of many of our friends on their journey to Ireland. It’s an opportunity to tell our refugee story and relate it in a deep, deep way to Irish history.

More information on:

http://nationalfamineway.ie/

The programme is as follows:

Friday May 24th: National Famine Way Launch – Strokestown Park House

Day 1: May 25th Strokestown – Clondra    10am – 5.00pm  (22km)

Day 2: May 26th Clondra – Abbeyshrule  9:30am – 5.00pm  (30km)

Day 3: May 27th Abbeyshrule-Mullingar   9:30am- 5.00pm  (27km)

Day 4: May 28th Mullingar –Longwood    9:30am – 5.00pm  (30km)

Day 5: May 29th Longwood – Maynooth   9:30am – 5.00pm  (27km)

Day 6: May 30th Maynooth – Dublin         9:30am – 5.00pm (27km)

On May 30th (5.30pm-7.30pm) and May 31st (10.00am – 5.00pm) the Inaugural National Famine Way Famine Quarter Custom House Quay Festival takes place at EPIC Irish Emigration Museum, CHQ Building. Custom House Quay.

Suggestions for New Horizon participation.

Friday 24th May. 
The Canadian wake.

This is the send-off party for the walk. There are exhibitions, tour of Strokestown house and the Famine museum, lectures, music from both Ireland and Canada, even a poitin still! (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poit%C3%ADn  if you don’t know what that is!) .

I’d suggest that we make our way to Stokestown in late afternoon and head for home about 10:00 pm.
If people are doing Ramadan then we can have an iftar picnic in the park grounds at 9:30.
There is no walking involved on Friday so it would be suitable for everyone.
Depending on the numbers we can either travel in volunteer’s cars or hire one or two minibuses.
Event costs €5.00 with a special concession price of €0.00 for New Horizon  DP residents.
If you would like to go to the Canadian wake sign up here.
Tuesday  28th May.
Mullingar Walk
The walkers will have reached Mullingar at this stage. The walk will be through the town and as far as you like along the canal towards Dublin. We will be joined by local people, school groups and musicians on this stage.
Start at 9:30 am. I’d suggest that New Horizon walkers would do about 5km on this day. It’s suitable for children over the age of 8  but it’s probally best not to bring really small children on this stage.
Wear comfortable shoes and bring a raincoat!
Again we can either travel in volunteer’s cars or hire one or two minibuses.
If you would like to go to the Mullingar walk sign up here.
Other Days
If anyone wants to join us on any of the other days for a short walk they are very welcome just to show up. No charge.
See the programme above for start and finish points for each day.
If you want to walk the full route or a full day and get the certificate, baggage transfer and goody bag sign up on
Please note that the registration fee does not include accommodation or meals.
This will be an extraordinary event where we can tell our story and relate it to a very difficult time in Ireland’s past.
I hope that you will be able to attend.
Gerry

Offaly Domestic Violence Support Service will hold a free morning seminar on “Domestic Violence & Ethnic Minority Woman” on Friday 17th of May from 10.30 a.m. to 1.30 .p.m.
in Tullamore.  Guest Speakers for the morning include;

* Shamsun Nahar Chowdhury-Awkidwa
* Shelia Crowley Ruhama
* Sandra Mc Donagh OTM
* Nusha Yonkova Immigrant Council of Ireland
* Rima Kawash New Communities Partnership

To book a place contact Anne on manager@odvss.ie<mailto:manager@odvss.ie> or call 0579351796 places are limited for this event so early booking is advisable.

No 2 Cormac Street
Tullamore
Co. Offaly
info@odvss.ie<mailto:info@odvss.ie>
www.odvss.ie<http://www.odvss.ie/>
Ethnic Minority Mobile No. 0860418948
Office Line No. 057 93 51796
Help Line No. 057 93 51886

National Famine Walk

The Irish Heritage Trust and Strokestown Park house are launching the National Famine Way walking trail with a six-day 165 km walk from Strokestown to Dublin from May 25th to May 30th 2019. The route follows the Royal canal from the Shannon river to Dublin.

This is to remember the 1490 people who walked from Strokestown to embark on emigrant ships in Dublin in May 1847. A large number of these people died either on the ships from Liverpool or on arrival in the fever sheds at Grosse Isle in Qubec.

They have kindly invited Direct Provision residents and New Horizon volunteers to participate in some or all of this walk. People can:

  • Attend the Canadian Wake in Stokestown on 24th May
  • Walk one, or more, days on the route
  • Walk all the way
  • Attend the arrival ceremony and launch of the trail at the Emigration Museum in Dublin on May 30th

This is very closely related to the terrible experiences of many of our friends on their journey to Ireland. It’s an opportunity to tell our refugee story and relate it in a deep, deep way to Irish history.

I’d really love to support this walk. If you can help by participating or by organising people to come to events please let me know.

Gerry

More information on:

http://nationalfamineway.ie/

 

The Big Hello

On Saturday 4th May we had an ‘Evening Breakfast’ as part of the National Community Weekend Big Hello campaign.

We welcomed our friends and neighbours to an evening of fun.

We had music, dancing, samosas, chats and, the big hit of the night, henna hand painting!

Very many thanks to all who participated. Particularly the local community from Horseleap and Tubber,  Temple staff, Failte Isteach Kilbeggan, The Salvadorian community in Ireland, and, as always, NH volunteers Mary and Margaret.

Don’t forget our next ‘Evening Breakfast’  on Sunday 12th at 7pm in Lissywollen DP site, Athlone!

Media Expression Course

Athlone Community Radio offers a QQI LEVEL 3 MEDIA EXPRESSION COURSE to residents of the Athlone DP site.

What would you change in the world around you?

‘’Supporting the voices of marginalised groups’’

Over 10 classes get to grips with how the media works and get involved in radio that makes a difference

In a fun and friendly atmosphere, you’ll explore how radio and TV shape the world we live in. In a group, you’ll help make a radio programme you’ll like to listen to, on things, big and small, that matter to you

With the help of the community Foundation of Ireland, there’s no charge but spaces are limited

Contact Deirdre on 087 9364974 or marketing@athlonecommunityradio.ie to find out more

This course takes place in the Play Centre (beside the Medical Centre).     

Registration 10:30am- 11am.   Course 11am – 1pm

Tues and Wed mornings

QQI LEVEL 3 MEDIA EXPRESSION COURSE (1)

The Big Hello!

On the May Bank Holiday weekend communities are holding Big Hello! events.

The Big Hello! is going to be a weekend of community celebration. The aim of the weekend is to encourage people to get to know their neighbours, by hosting or attending a Big Hello! event in their local area.

New Horizon, with support from the Department of Rural and Community Development,  would like to invite residents of the two Direct Provision sites, their neighbours, teachers and school friends to:

Evening Breakfast

We intend to hold two evening breakfasts in the direct provision accommodation centres on the weekend of the May Bank Holiday.

The events will take place in each of the direct provision accommodation centres in Westmeath, Lissywollen and Temple Spa Horseleap. 

The timing of the events may coincide with the beginning of Ramadan on 6th May.  For Muslims, the evening breakfasts will be the conclusion of the first day of Ramadan fasting.  For other it will be a supper gathering.  For all it will be chance to meet and mingle with their neighbours in the accommodation centres.

We hope that these events will encourage people to “come out of their houses”, to break barriers and encourage integration. In all accommodation centres there are people who do not mix well and can be isolated because of cultural issues or language barriers.  Our evening breakfasts will break through these barriers – everybody likes free food.

Both of the gatherings will feature:

  • Food from different cultures.
  • Arabic disco,
  • Tea sampling,
  • Henna hands
  • African hairstyles exhibition
  • Irish Language and Music

Watch this space for more information!

 

You can’t change the world but sometimes …..

We can’t solve the world’s problems, but sometimes you can solve one person’s problem

In early April I had the pleasure of a  conservation with Gabi Witthaus author of the artofelearning blog about refugee support and online learning.

This is a really interesting blog and well worth exploring.

Gabl lists her interests as:

“Open research, open online learning, inclusivity. Uni Birmingham. PhD in progress. “

 

Pathways to Being Well

Recruitment starts for the ‘Pathways to Being Well’ training in Athlone, May 1-2, 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Pathways to Being Well’ is free 2 day training for faith and community leaders, volunteers, intercultural workers, those who act as first port of call for their community members and those passionate about improving community’s mental health and well being, particularly refugees and asylum seekers living in the area.

It is a practical and interactive training program, designed to give the participants knowledge and skills to:

  • Facts about mental health
  • Promoting positive mental health
  • Understanding mental health difficulties
  • Supporting community members
  • Connecting with services and resources
  • Planning community solutions

May 1st -2nd, 9.45-4.30, 

Athlone Institute of Technology room C2360

Application form Traing leaflet athlone and booking form (2)

Help available for childcare and travel costs.

To find out more and register your interest pls contact MentalHealth@cairde.ie