To mark National Famine Commemoration Day a famine walk, An Gorta Mor - Gan Bia, Gan Beal, Gan Anim - was held in Drumshanbo with the walk taking place from St Patrick's Church to the famine graveyard a short distance away, where a wreath laying and tree planting ceremony took place.
The walk was organised by Bryan Ryan, a student of Drumshanbo traditional music school run by Mossie Martin. The walk consisted of over sixty locals which included Brendan Barry, SF councillor, and Nancy woods of Drumshanbo Comhaltas as well as poets and musicians from Leitrim. A bass drum played by Ronan McManus of the Four Green Fields flute band lead the walk. The walk made its way to the famine graveyard where over 500 victims of an Gorta Mor are buried.
Fr. Frank Murray of St Patrick's Church spoke of the importance of remembering the victims of the great hunger, a huge humanitarian disaster with well over a million deaths with millions more emigrating.
Fr. Frank reminded everyone that suffering still continues around the world and in our own country.
A minute's silence was held before the laying of the wreath. Actor Donal O'Kelly spoke on behalf of the organisation Afri, remembering the importance of active remembrance with reflecting, understanding, empathising, alerting ourselves to injustices around the world especially to the refugee crisis and Ireland's role in taking refugees. Bryan Ryan planted an apple tree and spoke about the 40,000 men, women and children who died between the years 1845-1851 with many more dying on coffin ships. The more fortunate ones were buried in graveyards but more died in ditches and fields by the sea and lakeshore. Leitrim was one of the worst affected by the great starvation. The walk is just one of more active remembrance ceremonies that will take place in 2017 in Drumshanbo.
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