Waylon Gary White Deer to lead off Ballingarry famine walk.
Native American, Waylon Gary White Deer of the Choctaw First Nation, will lead this year’s Famine 1848 Walk in Ballingarry, Co Tipperary on Saturday, 28 July.
The Walk commemorates all those who suffered, died or emigrated during the Great Famine (1845-1850) and the 1848 Rising which took place in Ballingarry in the middle of the Famine as a response to it.
The Walk is an annual act of witness, memory and remembrance of a time when the Irish people were at their lowest ebb, when a million people died and another million fled the country.
The Walk also expresses solidarity with contemporary suffering caused by Famine throughout the world.
The Walk will begin at 3pm at the Young Ireland 1848 and National Flag monument in the village of The Commons and it covers a distance of about a mile and a half of gently ascending roadway to Famine Warhouse 1848, which was the scene of the Rising. The Walk usually takes about forty-five minutes.
This year’s Walk Leader Waylon Gary White Deer is a member of the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma in the United States.
The Choctaws are the third largest First Nation native tribe in the United States.
White Deer is a well known Choctaw writer and artist with a great interest in the Irish famine. He has been asked to lead the Walk in memory of a remarkable act of generosity during the Great Famine.
The Choctaws were an oppressed race in the United States who themselves had been dispossessed of their homeland by the national authorities in Washington DC to make way for new settlers.
Despite their own poverty, when the Choctaws heard about the Irish Famine, they held a collection among themselves and raised 170 dollars which they sent as famine relief to the poor and starving in Ireland.
This notable act of humanity has been recalled in recent years and has resulted in good relations between the Irish state and the Choctaw nation, not least through the activities of Mr White Deer.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited the Choctaws in Oklahoma in March of this year.
Famine Warhouse 1848 is an OPW state national heritage site in Ballingarry which is open to visitors. The house is now a museum with a historical exhibition and audio-visual.
It is in the hidden Ireland mid-way on the scenic driving route between the Rock of Cashel and Kilkenny city.