This year the Walk Leader is John Webster who since 2000 he has been the caretaker of the Famine Warhouse in Ballingarry.
The annual Famine 1848 Walk will take in Ballingarry on Saturday, July 31 at 3pm.
The Walk starts at the Young Ireland 1848 and National Flag monument in the village of The Commons and proceeds to the state national heritage site, Famine Warhouse 1848, at Farranrory Upper. It usually takes about 45 minutes to reach the site. The Walk returns to The Commons on the Upper Road, thus making a circuit of about four miles.
The Famine 1848 Walk commemorates the million Irish people who suffered and died in the Great Famine, the million people who fled the country, and the Young Ireland Rising which took place during the Famine on the last Saturday in July 1848 in Ballingarry. The Rising took place on the route of the Walk.
The leaders of the Rising notably the MP, William Smith O’Brien, Thomas Francis Meagher, Terence Bellew McManus and Patrick O’Donohoe were sentenced after a State trial in Clonmel to be executed by hanging, drawing and quartering. The sentence was commuted to penal exile in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) off the coast of Australia. Other leaders present in Ballingarry such as John Blake Dillon, Michael Doheny, John O’Mahony and James Stephens escaped to France and the United States. Stephens, O’Mahony and Doheny founded the IRB which was responsible for the Risings of 1867 and 1916.
This annual Walk of remembrance has been taking place for the last 15years. This year the Walk Leader is John Webster. Since 2000 he has been the caretaker of the Famine Warhouse and he is always willing to oblige visitors who call outside the standard visiting hours. He also raises the national flag daily at the monument in The Commons. Tradition states that the tricolour was flown in The Commons during the Rising. It has been flown every day since the monument was erected in 1989, first by Anthony Ivors for twenty-one years until 2010 and by John Webster for the last eleven years.
1848 was a year of revolutions in Europe and the Tricolour is a flag of 1848 as is the German national flag. Early in that year, O’Brien and Meagher went to Paris to congratulate the French revolutionaries on overthrowing the monarchy and establishing a republic. Meagher brought the tricolour back from Paris with him. Meagher, O’Brien and Dillon all made speeches in The Commons in 1848. Inscribed on the monument in The Commons are Meagher’s ecumenical words on the meaning of the flag: ‘The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between the Orange and the Green and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of the Irish Catholic and the Irish Protestant may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood’.
The Famine Warhouse 1848 site has been closed by the Office of Public Works since the pandemic began in March 2020. If the OPW open the site by the day of the Walk the Walk will go as far as the house. If not, the Walk will stop at the entrance gate to the site as it did in 2020.
As last year the Walk will take place in accordance with public health guidelines due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Walkers will adhere to social distancing regulations. Walkers are advised as usual to bring a sun hat and an umbrella to cover all eventualities of Ireland’s changeable weather.
The Walk is organised by the Famine Warhouse 1848 committee and all are welcome.
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