The Commons – Ballingarry Famine Walk , 28th July 2018

A little while ago I blogged that Choctaw artist/writer Waylon Gary White Deer was to lead a Famine Walk on the 28th July

Well, today was the 28th July, so off I and one of my children went to join Waylon Gary White Deer to walk from The Commons, where the Irish tricolour was first flown, to the nearby Famine Warhouse, where the 1848 Rising took place on the 29th July.

I don’t believe in photographing every aspect of my life  and today preferred to have the experience rather than snap away all the time. Anyway, all too many photos would have been like this:

So perhaps that’s just as well.

It began in heavy rain, had a massive hail shower a few minutes in, but continued in sunshine. At The Commons a couple of brief speeches were made and then off to the Famine Warhouse. The walk gave good views of the Slieveardagh  hills. The group was good humoured and tolerant of my son’s laser-guided devotion to running into puddles.

I had never visited the Warhouse before. I was surprised by how remote it was, and how far off the road. At the roadhouse another heavy shower slightly delayed proceedings before a fascinating account of the 29th July 1848 by a local historian. I had got the events mangled in what little memory I had of the day; I thought the Warhouse was where the Young Irelanders were besieged; in fact it was they doing the besieging of the Callan Police who had commandeered the recently complete house. Until the Cashel police made their way there, which marked the end of the 1848 Rebellion.

The events of 1848 have to be contextualised not only in the famine years but also the 1848 wave of bloodless revolutions in Europe, may of which occurred seemingly without effort on the part of revolutionaries.

The speech also brought home that the peaceful-seeming site saw two deaths, Young Irelanders killed feet from us.

After this speech Waylon Gary White Deer gave a heartfelt speech which told the story of the gift given by Choctaws – not their government, but ordinary people – for Famine Relief. This was again given context, of the Choctaw’s own experience of oppression and dispossession. Waylon Gary White Deer was rather self effacing discussing this, repeatedly mentioning it was a small amount financially, but ultimately underlining the importance of acts of remembrance like this walk.

The National Anthem was played by local musicians the Mangled Badgers and all was followed by refreshments with more music from the Mangled Badgers, here in action:

Then it was just a matter of returning down the hill to The Commons.

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