Grey Green & Grim

Grey skies and green mountains might typify the beautiful country Ireland is but this place, Delphi Doolough, hides a grim story of human tragedy behind its stark beauty.

In March of 1849 during the Irish Potato famine Irish people were instructed to present themselves to officials in the town of Louisburgh to have their claims for food relief validated. For some reason the officials instead traveled down to Delphi Lodge nearly 20 kilometers south leaving instructions that anyone claiming food relief should instead present themselves there at 7am the following morning.

That night hundreds of already starving people were forced to travel south in inclement weather up over the Doolough pass to reach Delphi Lodge on the other side. Many Irish died that night, their bodies left where they fell on the shores of Doolough.

The only sign today for passers by is a lone monument, the Doolough Valley Famine Memorial, inscribed with the following words by Mahatma Gandhi; “How can men feel themselves honored by the humiliation of their fellow beings?”

It’s hard to imagine such a human tragedy in such a beautiful place. Perhaps it makes Delphi Doolough all the more humbling to pass through.

Photo: Robert Rath, ‘Grey Green & Grim’, 1/60s f13 ISO160 14mm

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