23 April 2009 Edition
1916 Easter commemorATions 2009
Republicans united and focused on ideals of 1916
WE continue our reports of some of the many commemorations that took place around the country last week to celebrate the 93rd anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
Easter speeches by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams, Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD and Gerry Kelly MLA can be read in full at www.sinnfein.ie
ON Saturday morning, a wreath was laid in Maghery and on Saturday afternoon several hundred people turned out for a parade from Churchill Park in Portadown to the grave of Cumann na mBan Volunteer Julie Duggan, who died in a car accident while on active service in 1972.
The main speaker at the Portadown commemoration, West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann, urged more women to get involved in the struggle for Irish sovereignty. Jennifer told the gathering that Julie Duggan was the embodiment of the founders of Irish republicanism. She was involved in her community, was an active union member, abhorred sectarianism and her greatest desire was to see all the people of Ireland working together to build a unified, egalitarian society.
“We are well on our way to achieving that ideal but we can only have an equal society if we have an equal contribution from women. It is imperative that women become involved in Sinn Féin. To paraphrase a dear and close friend of mine, Bobby Sands, we all have a role to play and whether that be seven days a week or an hour a week, that contribution is essential.”
ON Easter Sunday morning, local MLA John O’Dowd told a 200-strong gathering at a commemoration in Derrymacash that it is the role of Sinn Féin to “build the party, and mobilise the Irish Diaspora across the world behind the demand for Irish unity. Sinn Féin are forging a new political alliance for change in Ireland. We offer a credible, egalitarian alternative to the people of Ireland.”
MARTIN McGuinness was the principal speaker at the Easter commemoration event in Roslea, County Fermanagh. He was introduced by leading republican and former O/C in Long Kesh, Seán Lynch who first read the Sinn Féin leadership Easter statement.
Speaking to a large crowd from throughout the county, the North’s deputy First Minister said that once again republicans had come together at Easter to honour all those who had fallen in the cause of Irish freedom and unity.
The address was delivered in Roslea graveyard which holds the graves of many patriot dead, including three men hanged in the Rising of 1798. Martin McGuinness praised what he called the long, proud history of republican struggle in Fermanagh, recalling the sacrifices of Volunteers who are laid to rest in Roslea graveyard.
“Sinn Féin and the whole Republican Movement are united and our objectives remain unchanged. The strategy is clear and we remain focused on the goals and ideals of the Easter Proclamation of 1916. Tiocfaidh ár lá!”
Local Sinn Féin cumainn unveiled a new memorial bench commemorating all those who have given their lives in pursuit of republican ideals.
THE annual Leitrim Easter commemoration took place at the historic Fenagh Abbey following a parade from Selton Hill, the site of a Tan War attack in which an IRA Flying Column was ambushed by crown forces and six Volunteers killed.
The commemoration was addressed by Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Cavan/Monaghan TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
“In their two budgets since last autumn, the Fianna Fáil/Green Party Government have penalised working people and those dependent on social welfare while once again letting those who caused this economic crisis off scot free. Worse than that, with their bank guarantee and now with their National Assets Management Agency they have again come to the rescue of the developers and bankers who, with Fianna Fáil, have brought our economy to its knees.”
He said the Government has failed to bring forward a jobs retention and creation strategy as workers are laid off every day from workplaces large and small.
“There is tremendous anger among people at what has been done. That anger needs to be turned to politicisation or else it will turn to despair and despondency. And that would suit the powers-that-be very well.
“Sinn Féin is going forward with a message of hope and a will and a determination to bring about real change. We are bringing that message to the people in the local and European elections now just weeks away.
“We must make a rallying call to the people of the North and West constituency, from Selton Hill in Leitrim to Spancil Hill in Clare, from Carrickmacross to Castlebar, from Galway Bay to Inishowen. We say: Change is possible. Change must happen. Don’t just get angry at Fianna Fáil – make them pay at the ballot box and, better still, elect the best candidate in the field: Pádraig Mac Lochlainn of Sinn Féin.”
THE Sinn Féin-organised Easter Rising 1916 commemorations throughout County Monaghan were hugely successful. Hundreds of people participated in the county parade in Monaghan Town on Easter Sunday afternoon.
At the county commemoration the traditional parade passed through Monaghan Town followed by a ceremony at Latlurcan Cemetery. The assembly point was the Feargal O’Hanlon Memorial on the town’s Clones Road. Led by piper Paddy Martin, a colour party and wreath-bearers, the parade included the Seán McIlvenna Band from Scotland.
Before the parade set off, a wreath was laid at the O’Hanlon Memorial by Sheila McKenna from Scotstown.
South Monaghan Councillor and Monaghan County Mayor Matt Carthy chaired the proceedings at Latlurcan. He welcomed all present and thanked the band for travelling to Monaghan for the event. He extended the best wishes of the commemoration to North Monaghan Councillor Brian McKenna, who is recovering from major surgery.
Senan MacAoidh read a statement from Ógra Shinn Féin.
Monaghan Town Councillor Padraigín Uí Mhurchadha read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
Sinn Féin member of Castleblayney Town Council James Cunningham read the Monaghan Republican Roll of Honour. A minute’s silence for private prayer was then observed and wreaths were laid on graves of Volunteers interred at each of the three cemeteries at Latlurcan.
The Easter statement from the Sinn Féin leadership was read by North Monaghan Town and County Councillor Seán Conlon.
The oration was delivered by the senior Sinn Féin member and former party chairperson, Mitchel McLaughlin. During the course of his address he said:
“Republicans will always honour all those who died in the struggle, but we particularly remember those Volunteers interred here at Latlurcan. Volunteer Bernard MaCartan Ward, who died as a result of ill-treatment in Wandsworth Prison in 1917 after having served in the GPO during the Rising; Volunteer Michael Kelly, ambushed and killed in 1920 by the UVF; Volunteer Feargal O’Hanlon, killed in action at Brookeborough with his comrade, Volunteer Seán Sabhat on New Year’s Day 1957. I would like to acknowledge Feargal’s sister, Pádraigín, Sinn Féin’s longest-serving councillor in County Monaghan.
“Volunteer Jim Lynagh, who was ambushed and killed in action by the SAS at Loughgall, County Armagh, in 1987, along with seven of his comrades, is also interred in this cemetery. Although not buried here, we also on this day remember Volunteer Seamus McElwain, killed on active service in 1986. And, of course, at this special time of commemoration let us pay special thought to the man that Cavan/Monaghan elected as TD in 1981, IRA Volunteer Kieran Doherty.
“Republicans have played an honourable role in mapping out a peaceful path that can deliver Irish unity. It is now our duty to deliver on the promise of that process.”
After the oration the parade reassembled and marched back through town to Park Street, where the Seán McIlvanna Band played Amhrán Na bhFiann to conclude the commemoration programme.
There was a large gathering at the Easter Saturday commemoration in Inniskeen which was led by a colour party and piper Paul Forde with two republican bands in attendance, from Crossmaglen and Cullyhanna.
The parade left from Ednamo and marched to the local graveyard. The procession stopped for a moment at the village where a wreath was laid at the Hunger Strike Memorial.
The wreath-laying ceremony at St Mary’s graveyard was chaired by local Sinn Féin Councillor Noel Keelan.
Wreaths were laid on the graves of local IRA Volunteers Packie Duffy, Tim Daly and Pat Lynch by family members and on behalf of the Republican Movement.
Sinn Féin EU North-West candidate Pádraig Mac Lochlainn gave the main oration.
This year’s Easter commemorations in Clones and Scotshouse were held on Easter Monday.
In the morning at Scotshouse, a large crowd gathered despite the inclement weather conditions.
Roger Carey chaired the event which was attended by around 100 people and the local Sinn Féin chairperson, Gerry McCarney, read the 1916 Proclamation.
In Clones, the 150-strong group were led by a colour party and a piper. The Cathaoirleach of Clones Town Council, Cllr Niall Quigley, chaired the event and called for wreaths to be laid on the graves of local republicans interred at the local cemeteries.
Cllr Marcella Leonard then read the 1916 Proclamation and republican ex-prisoner Seán Kinsella read the Easter statement issued from Sinn Féin.
The main oration was delivered by senior Fermanagh republican Seán Lynch. He urged republicans to remain focused on the goals of Irish unity and independence.
He described the current phase as “transitional” and stated that there is a need for patience and dedication as only the strategy advocated by Sinn Féin would deliver on the ideals of Easter 1916.
Wreath-laying ceremonies took place on Easter Sunday morning at cemeteries throughout County Monaghan, including at Annyalla, Carrickroe, Castleblayney, Clara, Clontibret, Corcaghan, Raferagh, Trinity (Rockcorry), Tyholland and Urbleshanny.
A CROWD of 200 people attended the graveside commemoration for Volunteer Seamus Woods in Pomeroy on Easter Sunday.
The proceedings were chaired by local republican Dessie Grimes and the Easter Proclamation was read by Declan Coyle. Local Gaelgeoir Seamas Mac Giolla Phadraig recited a decade of the Rosary in Irish and the main address was given by Cllr Declan McAleer.
Cllr McAleer reflected on the courage and sacrifice of Seamus Woods and all of the Volunteers who gave their lives in the struggle for Irish freedom. Cllr Mc Aleer reminded the crowd that when the brutal and oppressive role of the British government in Ireland is consigned to the dustbin of history, Volunteers like Seamus Woods will be forever remembered for their part in the struggle for Irish freedom.
The proceedings concluded with the playing of Amhrán na bhFian by a young member of Pomeroy Accordion Band.
Over 70 people attended the Easter commemoration at the graveside of veteran republican Charlie Ferris in Killyclogher graveyard.
The proceedings were chaired by Liam Coyle, chair of the Murray/Mc Aleer Sinn Féin Cumann, Killyclogher.
Liam reflected on Charlie’s lifelong participation in the struggle from first volunteering in 1936 and remaining faithful until his death in 2005.
John Smith read the Easter Proclamation and wreaths were laid on behalf of the Republican Movement. A member of the Ferris family recited a decade of the Rosary and the proceedings were brought to a close with the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann by Cáit McCullagh.
On Easter Saturday, republicans assembled at the graveside of poet, playwright and republican Alice Milligan.
The commemoration was chaired by the cathaoirleach of the Milligan/Harte Sinn Féin Cumann, Seán Donnelly.
Donnelly reflected on the courage of Alice Milligan, who was born into the unionist tradition but became a strong advocate for Irish republicanism. Donnelly said that this was a very good example of the anti-sectarian nature of republicanism and compared Alice Milligan to other notable historical figures such as Wolfe Tone.
A wreath was laid on Alice Milligan’s grave by veteran republican James McElduff. James was interned in the 1950s and again in the 1970s, and his father, James (Senior), was a close personal friend of Alice Milligan.
In one of the biggest crowds witnessed in recent years, 400 people attended the annual Loughmacrory commemoration at the graveside of brothers Gerard and Martin Harte. Gerard and Martin were shot while on active service with their comrade, Brian Mullin, on Tuesday 30 August 1988.
The proceedings were chaired by Seán Donnelly, cathaoirleach of the Milligan/Harte Sinn Féin Cumann. Wreaths were laid by members of the Harte family and on behalf of the Republican Movement.
The main address was given by Cookstown District Councillor and Greencastle GAA stalwart Sean Clarke. Cllr Clarke spoke of the courage and dedication of the two Volunteers. He also expressed ongoing solidarity with their families.
Cllr Clarke reflected on the fact that as well as being dedicated republicans, Gerard and Martin were also dedicated family and community men. He recalled a number of encounters that he had with them on the football field and attributed many of the notable achievements of Loughmacrory Naoimh Treasa GFC to the commitment and example shown by Gerard and Martin.
The graveside proceedings were brought to a conclusion with a powerful vocal rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann sung by Maolaoíse Harte.
Following the graveside proceedings, the crowd then moved to the recently completed commemorative garden in Loughmacrory village. In the garden, a wreath was laid by Winnie Harte, mother of Gerard and Martin, and by veteran republican James Mc Elduff. John Gallagher laid a wreath in memory of all of those from the area who played their part in the struggle for Irish freedom.
A minute’s silence was observed followed by a lament on the tin whistle played by Una Rafferty.
West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Claire McGill addressed republicans at commemorations at Cranagh and Strabane Cemetery on Easter Sunday.
Speaking at the Republican Plot in Strabane Cemetery, she said:
“Earlier today, Mary Shanaghan, mother of Sinn Féin activist Pádraig Ó Shanaghan, who was murdered by an RUC/loyalist death squad in 1991, was laid to rest in Aghyaran. In the face of heart-breaking tragedy and much adversity, Mary showed great dignity and courage and I would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the Shanaghan family circle from everyone gathered here today.
“Since gathering at this spot last Easter, we have also lost our esteemed comrades Ivan Barr and Charlie McHugh. Their contribution to the people of this area and to the republican struggle has been immense and their loss immeasurable. The best tribute we can pay is to make sure their legacy is built upon.
“While our patriot dead listed on the West Tyrone Roll of Honour and Roll of Remembrance transcend every generation – from the 1920s up until the present – they all lived and died striving to realise the ideals and principles enshrined in the Proclamation of 1916. We are immensely proud of our patriot dead and of their families and by gathering here together in commemoration each Easter we reaffirm and reinforce this sense of pride.”
McGill concluded her address by saying:
“As we move towards the centenary of the 1916 Rising, and as we continue to strive to deliver the objectives of national independence and equality enshrined in the Easter Proclamation, our task is to communicate the vision of the type of Ireland envisaged in this revolutionary document through campaigning and building support amongst every section of the Irish people.”