Non-Dubliners played key part in 1916, Limerick event told

Footsteps to Freedom event sees re-enactment of Volunteer march to Glenquin Castle

A formation of Irish Volunteers (above). The Footsteps to Freedom event involved a re-enactment of the march of 300 Irish Volunteers from across West Limerick and North Cork to Glenquin Castle 100 years ago.  File photograph: Militaryarchives.ie

A formation of Irish Volunteers (above). The Footsteps to Freedom event involved a re-enactment of the march of 300 Irish Volunteers from across West Limerick and North Cork to Glenquin Castle 100 years ago. File photograph: Militaryarchives.ie

 

Men and women from outside Dublin had a big part to play in the 1916 Rising, despite perceptions given in media coverage of commemorative events this year, a major centenary event in Co Limerick was told.

One of the biggest single events of the Easter Rising was re-enacted on Sunday at Glenquin Castle, Co Limerick, where hundreds of people walked in the footsteps of rebels who played a part in the struggle for independence.

The Footsteps to Freedom event involved a re-enactment of the march of 300 Irish Volunteers from across West Limerick and North Cork to Glenquin Castle 100 years ago.

The 1916 mustering was part of a wider plan to galvanise the country for a national uprising, but after a few hours of military drills word came through to Glenquin that the Rising had been called off.

More than 2,000 people attended Sunday’s commemoration, where after a moment of reflection they enjoyed an afternoon of traditional Irish music.

Just over 800 people converged at the castle after walking from 20 different villages across West Limerick and North Cork, including Abbeyfeale, Ardagh, Ashford, Broadford, Carrigkerry, Castlemahon, Feoghanagh and Milford.

Media reports

“Today of course we are commemorating the beginning of the Easter Rising in 1916, but we are also remembering the part played by the brave men and women of West Limerick and North Cork and how they helped shape the country we have today, because despite what most of the media have reported in the last few weeks, men and women from outside Dublin did have a part to play in the Rising, ” organiser Ger Grainey told those gathered.

Among those remembered at Glenquin were Con Collins from Monagea, who was in Kerry helping Roger Casement, and Domhnaill Sheehan, who drowned in Kilorglin on the way to Banna Beach.

“In the GPO fighting side by side, you had Pat and Jim McNamara from Loughill, James and Mattie Flanagan from Kiloughteen and Garret McAuliffe from Newcastlewest,” Mr Grainey continued.

Dromcollogher siblings Joan, James and Mary Wall, the adult children of Charles Wall, who was in charge of the Irish Volunteer gathering at Glenquin in 1916, were among those who attended Footsteps to Freedom.

The Wall siblings placed a wreath at a plaque unveiled by their late father 50 years previously, at the 1966 commemorations.

Many of those present on Sunday had also attended the 50th year anniversary celebrations, but nobody anticipated Sunday’s massive turnout for the centenary event.

“We had initially planned for 150-200 people. I have been to 37 meetings in 20 parishes since January, so it has been intense. But it is heartwarming to see how many people have turned out, because it’s not just my history, it’s their history, and the memory of these people does not belong to any creed or political party - people need to start accepting that and be proud of our ancestors,” added Mr Grainey.

Tracing names

A qualified genealogist, Mr Grainey has spent the past nine months involved in a detailed project tracing the names of all the men and women from West Limerick who were involved in the Irish struggle for freedom from 1914 to 1923.

“A lot of people are not aware of how their ancestors were involved. We have been reconnecting people. There came a time where you were almost afraid to say you were republican - we have to separate the past and the recent past and accept history and be proud of what people did on our behalf,” he added.

Sunday’s official centenary of the Easter Rising was marked throughout Limerick, with a number of other events taking place in the city and county.

A Memorial Garden was opened at Merchant’s Quay in front of locals, members of the Defence Forces, the Limerick City Pipe Band and various councillors, TDs and assorted guests.

Mayor Liam Galvin laid a wreath both there and at the 1916 Commemoration statue on Sarsfield Bridge, while a Memorial Garden was also opened at the local authority’s offices in Kilmallock.

Speaking at the memorial gardens in Merchant’s Quay, Mr Galvin explained how the red and white colours of the flowers around the life-sized replicas of the Proclamation represented “the red of sacrifice and the white of peace”.

“2016 belongs to everyone in Limerick City and County and to our friends and families overseas. 2016 is our inheritance, it is our story, and it is a story that deserves to be told unambiguously and with pride,” he said.

Eileen and Peadar O’Keefe from Corbally were among those present at the unveiling of the memorial gardens in Merchant’s Quay.

“The men of 1916 gave their lives - the least we can do is walk here on such a lovely morning,” said Mr O’Keefe.

“I loved Easter Sunday in Dublin, and the State commemorations were very good, and it should be left to the people because the people own it, not the politicians,” added his wife Eileen.