Remembering 1916: St Raphael’s ‘little fighter’ accepts Tricolour

National flag and copy of Proclamation to be presented to every school in the country

One of the major 1916 centenary initiatives is the presentation of the national flag and a copy of the Proclamation to every school in the country.

The children of St Raphael’s Special School in Celbridge, Co Kildare are one of 3,000 primary schools participating in the programme.

Wearing her great-grandfather's old IRA medal, Mary Hannon (10) accepted the national flag on behalf of the other children in the school.

The flag was presented to her by Sgt Amy Hopkins and Lt Stephen Cunningham, both based at Curragh camp.


Sgt Hopkins read from the Proclamation, and Lt Cunningham gave the children a talk on how to respectfully handle the national flag - the same talk which will be given to children in every school in the country.

South Mayo brigade

Mary Hannon's great-grandfather Cmdt Michael Lynch was a senior officer in the South Mayo brigade of the old IRA under the command of Gen Tom Maguire of Cross, Co Mayo, who was a member of the first Dáil.

Cmdt Lynch was involved in many military engagements against the crown forces during the War of Independence.

Following that conflict, he was imprisoned in the Curragh in Kildare with other anti-treaty Republican prisoners and endured a long hunger strike.

Mary Hannon was born with a rare syndrome called Kabuki syndrome, so called because those who have it have features that resemble a Japanese doll.

Several operations

She also has hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), which has necessitated several operations on her heart. She may need a heart transplant in the future.

Being chosen to accept the national flag on behalf of the school is a source of pride for her parents, Philip and Christina (Lynch) Hannon.

Mr Hannon said: “It is a great honour for Mary, our little fighter, to be commemorating her great-grandfather.

Michael Lynch was quite a significant figure in the War of Independence. I’ve seen his files. He was involved in the Tourmakeady ambush [in which the IRA ambushed a patrol of RIC and Black and Tans in 1921]”.

The school has 64 pupils ranging in age from five to 18. School principal Kathy Waldron said: “Our children’s learning needs to be really concrete. The medal makes it very relevant to them.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times