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In memory of an historic emigration journey in Co Mayo

Last update - Monday, August 15, 2011, 19:39 By Séamas McSwiney

A fundraising walk commemorating the historic route taken by many West of Ireland emigrants will be undertaken by the Irish Chaplaincy in Britain (ICB) next week.

The London-based charity, which works with some of the most vulnerable Irish emigrants in Britain, assisted more than 1,000 Irish emigrants last year.
On 23 August the ICB will hold a sponsored walk in Co Mayo along the newly opened Green Way from Newport to Mulranny.
The Green Way walking route – which was recently opened Taoiseach Enda Kenny – has particular connotations for emigrants from the Mayo area, as it marks the journey that many Irish emigrants were forced to make, especially in the massive depopulation that occurred particularly in the West of Ireland.
Both the first and the last ever train journeys made on the former railway line involved tragic stories of emigrant’s untimely deaths. The first, in 1894, was to carry back the bodies of Achill natives who were en route to Scotland to pick potatoes when their boat sank. The last was made in 1937, to return the bodies of ten Achill Islanders who died when the barn where they were staying during the potato-picking season was engulfed in flames.
Speaking last week, ICB director Dr Philomena Cullen said: “As a charity which works with some of the most vulnerable Irish emigrants we thought it would be appropriate to commemorate the journey made by emigrants in the past and to link that past with the emigrants we currently work with today.”
She added that the ICB sees the walk “as an act of solidarity, a symbolically rich way to re-focus public attention on the issue of emigration as it is been played out today, where once again 1,000 people are having to leave Ireland each week.
“It’s almost as if emigration is hardwired into Irish psyche, so that we respond in the same way down the decades to economic failure.”
Dr Cullen continued: “But throughout the 53 years that the Irish Chaplaincy has been working with Irish emigrants in Britain, we know for sure that emigration is not an easy or pain free remedy. We also know that people always live in each other’s shelter.
The ICB confirmed that all money raised from the sponsored walk would go towards maintaining its essential services for vulnerable Irish emigrants.

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