Devins salutes Liam Mellowes as a 'great champion of Irish freedom'

Mon, Dec 15, 2008, 00:00

WAR OF Independence leader Liam Mellowes was “a great champion of the cause of Irish freedom”, Minister of State for Enterprise and Education Jimmy Devins said at the weekend.

Speaking at the annual commemoration ceremony for Mellowes, who was executed by the Free State authorities on December 8th, 1922, Dr Devins said: “We should never forget the courage and idealism of that great generation who were prepared to sacrifice everything for the cause of liberty and the cause of an Irish republic.”

In his address, delivered at Mellowes’ graveside in Castletown, Co Wexford, Dr Devins said: “My grandfather, Séamus Devins, was one of that remarkable generation who . . . inspired by Liam Mellowes, rose in war to fight what was then the greatest empire the world had ever known.

“Like Liam Mellowes, he too found death, not at the hands of an alien oppressor but at the hands of former comrades. Both men were members of the Second Dáil,” Dr Devins said.

“Of all the enterprises undertaken by man, there is none more terrible than war, and no war more terrible and tragic than civil war.

“The bitter memories of that war have thankfully faded; the divisions it engendered now belong to the history books. Despite what some commentators claim, the era of Civil War politics is well and truly over, and that is a good thing. Ireland is too small a country for such divisions.”

Dr Devins added: “When Liam Mellowes died he was barely 27, he never lived to marry, settle down, or to see children, in whom he recognised himself, take their first steps, utter their first words, or experience the delight of a Christmas morning, just as my grandfather Séamus Devins did not live to see the young family he left behind him grow to adulthood.

“We all too often glibly say that a man gave his life for his country without understanding just what that means.”

He continued: “The freedom we now enjoy, and so often seem to take for granted, was bought at the price of their blood and their lives.

“The right to order our own affairs, to be the citizens of a free republic, rather than the subjects of any man, was bought by their pain, suffering and, in too many cases, their deaths.”