Joe Murray (centre) leading the Famine Walk in 2018 Picture: Derek Speirs
Carrickboy native, Joe Murray, is determined to ensure the annual Famin Walk in Louisborough, Co Mayo, is not forgotten this year as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.
The walk, organised by peace and justice organisation Afri, has been a popular annual event attended by hundreds each year since 1988.
Despite the disappointment, Joe Murray says Afri intends marking the spirit of the event through a free ‘Virtual Famine Walk’ event featuring conversation and music that will be livestreamed online on Saturday, May 16, at 7 pm.
Mr Murray is the coordinator of Afri and has been involved with the organisation since 1980. He is a recipient of the Archbishop Desmond and Leah Tutu Human rights Award.
He also received an award for his “compassion, dedication and humanitarianism” from the Dalai Lama in recognition of his work on the Board of Children in Crossfire.
He says the annual Famine Walk event is an important part of the annual calendar when it comes to remembering our history, while expressing solidarity with suffering in the world today.
“I find it hard to describe the feeling I get from having been part of the Doolough Famine walk over the past three decades.
It's akin, maybe, to the feeling some people get from climbing the Holy Mountain - Croagh Patrick - or from doing the Camino, which is popular with so many. For me the Famine Walk is a pilgrimage that ‘joins the dots’ of memory, compassion and solidarity,” said Joe.
“I have been involved every year since the first walk in 1988, apart from in 1989 when I was working with Concern in Sudan. It has been an extraordinary journey over more than three decades - walking, remembering and expressing solidarity. Extraordinary people have joined us and extraordinary stories have been told - the Maya from Guatemala; the Choctaw from Oklahoma; Desmond Tutu and Christy Moore; Lisa Lambe and Declan O'Rourke. I’m confident we’ll be able to walk again at some point this year but for now, I’m excited about our online event and looking forward to connecting with friends new and old through that.”
The Afri virtual Famine Walk event is supported by Irish Aid, Concern and Trócaire. The free online event takes place as an online livestream broadcast with guests from different locations across Ireland.
It will be broadcast on the Afri – Action from Ireland Facebook page and on Afri’s YouTube channel this coming Saturday, May 16, between 7pm-8.30pm.
While the event is free to join, Afri is encouraging people to consider fundraising and supporting Afri in whatever way they can.
For more information see www.afri.ie.