East Link bridge renamed after 1916 leader Tom Clarke
Many would consider honouring of Proclamation signatory long overdue, says Higgins
President Michael D Higgins and Helen Litton great-grandniece of Tom Clarke during a ceremony where the East Link bridge was renamed to Tom Clarke Bridge in Ringsend, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
A plaque to mark the name change of the East Link bridge to Tom Clarke Bridge in Ringsend, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Helen Litton great-grandniece of Tom Clarke with President Michael D Higgins during a ceremony to rename the East Link bridge in Ringsend, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins
“When names such as Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett spring to mind in recalling the seismic events of that Easter week of 1916, we should always remember that Tom Clarke is the connection to the previous generation and the Irish across the Atlantic,” he said.
Clarke had “rightfully been described as one of the key architects of the Easter Rising,” the President said, while his wife Kathleen was “symbolic of those widows who, while suffering great loss, turned their efforts into providing relief for others and continuing a struggle for equality”.
Mr Higgins was speaking in Ringsend, Dublin, at a ceremony which saw the former East Link bridge renamed after Clarke who was executed exactly 100 years ago on May 3rd, 1916.
Some 1916 leaders had been “immortalised in the names of Dublin streets and buildings,” the President said.
“Today the name of Tom Clarke, the first signatory to the Proclamation, will join that honourable roll call. It is, perhaps, an honour that many would consider overdue. There can be no doubt that he is a figure that links the revolutionary generations.”
On January 1st this year the former East Link bridge, opened in 1984 which carries up to 14,000 vehicles a day, came into public ownership and was taken over by Dublin City Council.
Lord Mayor of Dublin Críona Ní Dhálaigh said it was “only right and fitting” to so honour Clarke who had many connections with the Docklands area. She also paid tribute to Clarke’s widow who lost her husband and her brother Edward Daly to the executions which followed the Rising.
Ms Clarke was also a predecessor as Lord Mayor. “In 1939 she was elected as the first female Lord Mayor of Dublin for two terms, 1939-1941,” Ms Ní Dhálaigh said.
Ms Clarke’s great-grand niece Helen Litton, chair of the Tom Clarke Memorial Committee, said the presence at the event of President and his wife Sabina clearly indicated Tom Clarke’s “unique importance in the history of the Easter Rising”.
She recalled how in 2005 it had been proposed that Dublin Airport be named after Clarke, but that it went no further. She thanked the staff of Dublin City Council, the committee members and its patrons Robert Ballagh, Sabina Higgins, Dr Shane Kenna, Dr Martin Mansergh, judge Hugh O’Flaherty, Cormac O’Malley, and William Rossa Cole.