6 May 2010 Edition
Rain fails to dampen spirits as Border Campaign is remembered
BY MICHAEL NOLAN
I’M SURE Kevin Myers must have thought his prayers were answered on Sunday morning when dark clouds hung menacingly over the good people of Enniscorthy.
Thankfully, Irish republicans are a more resilient lot. As it turned, out the dark clouds, which turned into pouring rain in the afternoon, not only failed to dampen the spirits of the hundreds of people who gathered in the County Wexford town for the unveiling of a new monument honouring those who took part in the IRA’s Border Campaign of 1956-1962 but instead added to the poignancy of the occasion.
Several generations of republicans gathered to remember fallen comrades with pride. Young and old watched the procession, which was made up of 1798 Pikemen and of men and women dressed in the period attire of Volunteers from the Border Campaign. They were accompanied by the Volunteer Ed O’Brien Republican Flute Band as it made its way through the streets of Enniscorthy from Fairgreen to the monument site.
Organised by Coiste Cáirde na Laochra, Loch Garman, the proceedings were chaired by local Sinn Féin Councillor Johnny Mythen. It was Mythen who successfully brought the motion to Enniscorthy Town Council, allowing for the erection of the monument, that so enraged Kevin Myers earlier in the year. The large granite stone, with its inscription dedicated to the Vinegar Hill and Pearse Columns and the five men killed in Edentubber, stands prominently on a public green as you enter the town at the junction of Island Road and Irish Street on the Dublin side.
Before officially unveiling the monument, Charlie Murphy from Dublin, a veteran of the campaign, paid specific tribute to the two Wexford men, Paddy Parle and George Keegan, who died at Edentubber, County Louth, describing them as “heroic and courageous”.
The main speaker of the day was historian Ruan O’Donnell, author of From Vinegar Hill to Edentubber. O’Donnell set the context for the Border Campaign. He said the actions of the IRA at the time couldn’t be disassociated from the constitutional failure to address the plight of nationalists living in the sectarian Orange statelet.
He recalled County Wexford’s long tradition of republicanism, stretching from 1798 through to 1916, to the Border Campaign and up to the present day. He likened the roles played in the fight for Irish freedom and democracy by Paddy Parle and George Keegan to that of another Wexford IRA Volunteer, Ed O’Brien, killed in London during the most recent campaign.
A number of wreaths were laid at the monument as the men and women in Volunteer uniforms, complete with replica weapons, stood to attention. Seamie Davitt of Wexford Sinn Féin sounded The Last Post as the national flag was lowered. The Volunteer Ed O’Brien Flute Band finished proceedings with the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann.
It was a dignified, respectful and solemn occasion which stood in stark contrast to the “grotesque and obscene” nonsense spouted by Mr Myers and his fellow travellers in advance of the unveiling.
Former Enniscorthy Sinn Féin Councillor Noirin Sheridan (right) joins Wexford Sinn Féin Councillor Anthony Kelly (2nd left) and others in laying wreaths at the monument.