Mayo’s darkest days commemorated in stone

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The Doolough Valley Famine Walk commemorates a tragedy that occurred during the height of the Great Potato Famine of 1845-1849.

In the early spring of 1847, almost 400 starving adults and children walked the 16km from Louisburgh to Doolough after being sent by an official to seek out a Board of Guardians who could provide food or a ticket to the workhouse, and were due to meet in Delphi Lodge.

With a gale blowing and hail beating down upon them they trudged to Delphi where the Guardians refused them any relief. Fatigue and hunger took hold on the return journey and it was reported that seven bodies were found on the road and nine others never made it home, believed swept into the lake by the heavy squalls.

An annual famine walk is held around the anniversary on March 30.

There is a National Famine Monument located in Murrisk. This magnificent piece of sculpture by John Behan was unveiled by President Mary Robinson in 1997 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Famine. The monument depicts a ‘coffin ship’ and the skeletal bodies of the famine victims. It carries an inscription from Mahatma Gandhi: “How can men feel themselves honoured by the humiliation of their fellow beings?”

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