9 December 1999 Edition

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Fógraí bháis: Pa Toal

On Saturday, 27 November, Pa Toal, one of South Armagh's most dedicated republicans, was buried. The following oration was given at the graveside by Councillor Breandán Lewis:

``I wish on behalf of the Republican Movement to express our deep sorrow at the death of Pa Toal and to offer our sympathy to his relatives, friends and comrades.

Pa Toal was known to all of you as a friend or neighbour. To those within the Republican Movement who knew him, he was an honest, willing and dedicated republican.

Pa was born at the beginning of this century at a time of historic events in Ireland. He was born in the era of 1916 and the 1920s Tan War. He lived through the best part of a century of Ireland's fight for freedom. And right to the end, he was aware of the historic and significant events that are taking place at the close of this century. During the week, Pa was asking visitors in hospital how things were going.

Pa Toal's role in the struggle may not have been known to many but that was typical of the type of man he was. He was involved in the 1940s and the 1950s and was an invaluable part of the present phase of our struggle.

He held fast to a vision of where the Republican Movement was going - he had a sense of purpose and remained a loyal republican throughout his life.

Like many others, he was a republican activist in times when it was not easy. In the `40s, he cycled to places like Dunamoyne to attend meetings.

For 50 years, Pa walked these mountains for the Republican Movement. He buried weapons in them, he helped Volunteers moving through them. Pa Toal was one of those men who made South Armagh tick. He commanded this area from Meigh to the quarry on the Keggal Road. He was the eyes and ears of this area and was an unsung hero.

His role was not widely known among republicans and was completely unknown to the enemy. He was a very security conscious man. Only recently, while talking to some of his republican friends in hospital, he said: ``Don't be telling me too much - I might be rambling in my head.'' He was going to let nothing slip.

He was also a very humble man. He never looked for material gains. He always played down his own role. He always spoke of others doing far more than he did. He treated those who sheltered in his home like Gods. He shared everything he had with them. And after any particular action on his part, that would be it - nothing was ever divulged. People met and left Pa Toal with the impression of a great man.

I'm sure Pa can rest easy knowing that the future of the republicanism is in the hands of people like himself, people he has known, people who come from among their own community, people who love their own land, district and country.

It is fitting that Pa Toal is buried here under the Ballintemple Mountains where for years he knew and saw every movement of the enemy. Let us hope, and above all let us work, to make sure that Pa Toal will not be long watching from this grave until the only thing British he will see or hear will be the tourists.

Let us make sure - because we owe it to him - that the vision and dedication of Pa Toal are soon rewarded and fulfilled, and we can all live in a free, united and independent Ireland. And let us never forget the quiet, all-important part played by people like Pa Toal.''

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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