From Irish Times (April 22, 2015)
Walk, in period costume, commemorated 1847 walk when 1,490 starving tenants from Strokestown walked to Dublin and boarded a ship for Canada
Famine walkers on the final few steps of their 155km Famine re-enactment walk from Roscommon to the Jeanie Johnston in Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson
As they began the 155 km Famine commemorative walk from Strokestown, Co Roscommon to Dublin last weekend, participants’ thoughts turned to migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. “While exploring our past we are always conscious that the experience is someone else’s present,” Caroilin Callery, one of the walkers, said when they finished the walk in Dublin.
The walk, in period costume, commemorated one in 1847 when 1,490 starving tenants from the Mahon estate in Strokestown walked to Dublin and boarded the ship Naomi for Canada.
“Seven hundred of them died at sea,” Ms Callery said. On Monday she got a text to say 700 migrants had drowned off the coast of Libya. It was “gut-wrenching”, she said.
Ms Callery, along with Patricia Rogers, Mick Blanch, Gerard Glennon, Bernie Kelly and broadcaster Cathal Póirtéir, finished up at the Jeanie Johnston tall ship on Custom House Quay in Dublin.
They were met by Minister for Arts Heather Humphreys, who launched the programme for the inaugural Irish Famine Summer School in Strokestown in June. Described by co-ordinator Dr Ciarán Reilly of NUI Maynooth as “the biggest conference on the Irish Famine ever held to date”, it takes place from June 17th to 21st.
The Minister told the walkers: “You’ve brought life to history and history to life.”
She said the National Famine Commemoration Day on September 26th would be marked in Northern Ireland for the first time at Newry, Co Down.
“The Famine was an event felt by all religions and all cultures on this island. It was one of the most important events in our shared history, a bit like World War one,” she said.
Tim O’Connor, chairman of The Gathering in 2013, described the Irish diaspora as “a great global parish joined by geography and time”, much of it rooted in migration as a result of the Famine.
Schoolgirl Maeve Tighe read her poem The Journey.
Roscommon county council acting chief executive Tommy Ryan described Strokestown House as “a great asset” in an “unknown” county. The house was bought 35 years ago by Jim Callery who has overseen its preservation and the setting up of a Famine Museum there.
He attended the launch of the summer school programme with his wife Adeline. Their daughter Caroilin spoke of his huge personal and financial commitment to Strokestown House. “We’re extremely proud of him.”
After the Famine Walk, Caroilin Callery travelled straight to the inaugural meeting of the International Network of Irish Famine Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands:
INIFS Group Photo
Programme Expert Meeting International Network of Famine Studies
‘Famine Migration and Diaspora’
Radboud University Nijmegen
23-24 April 2015
9:30 Opening, Gymnasion (GN) 3
9.45-10:45: William Smyth (University College Cork), “Famine, emigration and the
transformation of southern Irish society 1845-1916”. GN 3
11.15-12:15: Mark McGowan (University of Toronto), “Finding the People of the
Famine Diaspora: A Preliminary Report on the Strokestown ‘1490’ in 1847”. GN 3
12.15-13:15: Lunch, Foyer GN
13.15-14:15: Jason King (NUI Galway), “Performing Famine Memory: Irish Theatre and
the Great Hunger during the Rise and Fall of the Celtic Tiger”. GN 3.
14.15-15:45: Panel session 1, GN2.
Aaron Roberts (University of California Riverside), “Fleeing and Starving: Settler Colonial Biopolitics in Ireland and Palestine”;
and response by David Nally (University of Cambridge).
Pawel Hamera (University of Cracow), “ ‘A Good Riddance’: the 1851 Irish
Census, the Mass Emigration and the British Press”.
16.15-17.00: Plenary discussion, GN 3. Contributions by Peter Gray (Queen’s University Belfast) and Emily Mark FitzGerald (University College Dublin).
18:30 – : Dinner at Vlaams Arsenaal
9.45-10:45: Laura Izarra (University of Sao Paolo), “Memories of Leaving and the
Language of Return”. GN3.
11.15-12:15: Piaras MacÉinri (University College Cork), GN 3
12.15-13:15: Lunch, Foyer GN
13.15-14:15: Marguérite Corporaal (Radboud University Nijmegen), “From Restoration to Reinscription: Remembering the Famine in Irish North-American Fiction”. GN3.
14.15-15:45: Panel session 2: GN2.
Frank Rynne (Université Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas), “The Returned American: Irish Americans, the American Diaspora and The Land War 1879-82”.
Caroilin Callery (Strokestown Park), “Memories of Leaving and the Language of Return”.
16:15-17:00: Plenary discussion, GN 3. Contributions by Jason King (NUI Galway) and Andrew Newby (University of Helsinki).
17.00-18:00: Goodbye and drinks, Foyer GN