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11 February 2016

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1916 descendant unveils Easter Rising plaque in Belfast

A YOUNG BELFAST REPUBLICAN with family connections to the Easter Rising in Dublin 1916 has unveiled a plaque in memory of those who died in the fight for Irish freedom.

Naoise Ó Faoláin is the great-great-nephew of Ringsend man Patrick Whelan, who was killed in action during the Rising, unveiled the new memorial stone in the Andersonstown Memorial Garden at South Link.

'Volunteers' on guard at the memorial plaque before the unveiling

'Volunteers' on guard at the memorial plaque before the unveiling

Patrick Whelan was shot dead in fierce fighting with British Army units attempting to cross Baggot Street Bridge on the Wednesday of the Rising. The young Volunteer was under the command of Eamon de Valera, whose forces had taken over the strategically-positioned Boland's Mill at Ringsend, near Dublin Docks.

An enthusiastic member of the Gaelic League and a renowned hurler, Whelan was shot just below the eye and died instantly. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

Describing being asked to unveil the memorial stone as a great honour, Naoise Ó Faoláin, who has been active in the Mairead Farrell Republican Youth Committee and is a member of Sinn Féin in NUI Galway where he is studying, said:

“I am really proud to be able to say that I had a relative who played an active role in the 1916 Rising. That heritage is important and it is really crucial that we highlight it, especially as my uncle Joe Keenan's name is inscribed on the memorial garden in South Link.”

Interestingly, the 22-year-old student, like Patrick Whelan, is both a Gaeilgeóir and a hurler and is studying for his degree in Galway through Irish having been educated at Bunscoil Phobail Feirste and Coláiste Feirste.

Rosie McCorley MLA addresses the crowd as  Seán 'Ginty' Lennon and Naoise Ó Faoláin look on

● Rosie McCorley MLA addresses the crowd as Seán 'Ginty' Lennon and Naoise Ó Faoláin look on

The main speaker at the event, Sinn Féin MLA Rosie McCorley, stressed the importance of the new plaque “which makes a link between the men and women 1916 and through the decades since partition to the present day”.

Rosie McCorley also commended the committee of Uachtar na bhFall Coiste Cuimhneacáin for the work they carried out over a weekend that saw an exhibition of 1916 memorabilia put on display in the Andersonstown Social Club.

Many of the artefacts on display will be included in the main 1916 exhibition scheduled for the Ambassador Hotel in Dublin from the end of this month.

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