5 November 1998 Edition

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Twenty five years remembered

One of the most respected volunteers in the history of the struggle in South Armagh will be remembered this month with a series of commemorative events.

Twenty-five years ago - at 3.00pm on 15 November - Captain Michael McVerry, OC 1st Battalion South Armagh Brigade Oglaigh na hEireann, was shot dead while on active service in an attack on Keady British/RUC Base.

For a young man of twenty one years he achieved much and was afforded great respect among those in his command.

Hailing from the quiet little townland of Cargie, Skerriff, Michael McVerry is a legend in the Cullyhanna and South Armagh area. He is remembered as being very serious and conscientious in his fight for Irish freedom, but also having a jovial nature.

He was interested in the promotion of Irish culture and although a busy man he made time to take part in local plays and football games. From listening to those who knew him, he seemed to be enthusiastic and always in form for talk and debate. One of his comrades tells that he was very aware of the need for the war but that ``we need a strong political party because when the war is over we will need to sit down and talk with the other side - we don't want our hard work to fall into the hands of others. We don't want a thirty-two county Free State, we want a Republic''.

In his short life Michael suffered at the hands of the authorities on both sides of the border. He was held on remand in Mountjoy Prison where he went on hunger-strike and became so weak that he had to be transferred to the Curragh Military Hospital. When he regained his strength he was incarcerated in the prison at the Curragh, and a short time later he and six others escaped from captivity by tunnelling through the walls.

A few months before he died he lost his hand while testing hand-grenades but this didn't deter him. Soon after he was out on active service carrying on the fight.

Once again the people of the area come together in preparation for the anniversary. The majestic monument in his honour - erected twelve months after his death - has been redeveloped in recent weeks and the local people with the help of his comrades have organised a weekend of events in and around the area.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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