Saturday, March 31, 2012


Charlie Connelly is a travel writer I met in Dublin last year. I was delighted to find his And did those feet Walkng through 2000 years of British and Irish History large print edition in the Oamaru Library. I shall have to go back to Britain some time, because there are places Charlie mentions that I have not yet seen. There are chapters about Queen Boudica, King Harold, Olaf the Dwarf (King of the Isle of Man) Owain Glyndwr, Mary Queen of Scots,Bonnie Prince Charlie and the final chapter is about the Doolough Famine Walk. In 1849, after four years of famine, 600 starving people walked to Louiaburgh to claim relief from the local Poor Law Inspector, only to find he had gone to Delphi, sixteen miles further on, to the Marquis of Sligo's hunting lodge. He left instructions, applicants for relief had to be there between seven and eight next morning or be struck off the relief register. Not all the 600 survived the night over mountains in snow. Those that did were kept waiting through the morning while the Poor Law administrators had their lunch, and then they were dismissed without any food being distributed. Charlie's account of this tragedy makes his book a 'must read'. But that is not why I am writing about it. What jolted me most was this paragraph on page 356: 'Relief efforts were put in place but the man in charge of them the Assistant Secretary to the Treasury, Charles Edward Trevelyan,was a firm believer in market forces . . . that relief efforts would make people too reliant on handouts.' THE SHOCKING FACT IS THAT DURING THE FAMINE IRELAND REMAINED A NET EXPORTER OF FOOD,' Ireland's population decreased by one quarter directly because of the famine. In the early days of the USSR millions of peasants starved while that Workers Paradise exported grain. The same happened in China under Chairman Mao. And do you remember Biafra? So where does that leave us? I can just remember 1929- 35 and the hunger marches. But in 2012 I find it hard to believe people are still listening to idiots bleating about 'market forces' but there was one on National radio last week doing just that to explain the high price of milk here. I rejoice for dairy farmers who are at last earning a reward for their hard work, but why should selling milk powder to China and Russia put the cost of milk beyond the average New Zealand family? We are also exporters of cheese and butter. Ordinary Kiwis cannot afford either, especially those whose jobs have been exported 'off shore'. If you want to learn more Google DDOLOUGH FAMINE WALK/

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