Seán Mac Diarmada’s execution commemorated by locals in candlelit vigil
Mac Diarmada’s grandniece among those who gathered in Kiltyclogher, Co Leitrim
Seán Mac Diarmada was executed at dawn on May 12th, 1916.
As a television crew filmed at the thatched cottage in Corranmore where Mac Diarmada was reared with Maura Mylonas Grant’s grandfather Patrick, and eight other siblings, the Bundoran resident said it was an emotional day.
“When I was a child we spent every summer in the cottage listening to my grandfather’s stories,” Ms Mylonas Grant said.
“He knew all the leaders and used to talk about Bulmer Hobson and Pearse and Sean’s girlfriend Min Ryan. He was so proud of his brother”, she recalled. Crowds gathered at the restored whitewashed cottage in Corranmore at about 10.30pm on Wednesday night and walked the three mile route to Kiltyclogher.
A piper led them in a candle-lit procession to the Seán Mac Diaramada statue which dominates the village.
Mac Diarmada and James Connolly were the last of the 1916 leaders to be executed, and at Wednesday’s night’s vigil, another relative explained that it took 24 hours for the news to filter through to his family in Leitrim.
“The sad thing is that false hopes had been raised that he and Connolly would be spared,” explained Hubert McMorrow (70) whose great-grandfather Denis Mc Morrow was a brother of Mac Diarmada’s mother, Mary.
“It wasn’t until the next day that Mickey Wynne a neighbour of the family heard the news when he went to collect his pension at the post office in Kilty, and he had to go out to Corranmore to tell Seán’s brother ”.
As Mac Diarmada’s grandniece left to join his other close relatives outside the walls of Kilmainham jail at dawn , the people of his home village also marked his final hours.
At midnight, local teacher Regina Fahey read from Min Ryan’s account of her last encounter with Mac Diarmada in his prison cell, when he cut buttons off his jacket and scratched his name on them, so Min and her sister could keep them as keepsakes.
Local student Oisin Keaney (18) read from Mac Diarmada’s last letter to his brothers and sisters written on May 11th, 1916 when he told them: “I die that the Irish nation might live”.
And Hubert McMorrow read the words of nurse Aoife de Burca, who had been in the GPO during the Rising and who had later recounted how Mac Diarmada had been liked and trusted by everyone, with “ his pale handsome face and large dark eyes, luminous with the fire of enthusiasm”.
Local Fine Gael councillor Sean McDermott said it was a solemn occasion. “There have been celebrations all year but this is a solemn event and people are dwelling on what happened exactly 100 years ago.
“It is remarkable that his home is still here intact, the only home place of all the Proclamation signatories to survive”, he said.
Dervilla Keegan was one of a number of members of the “Love Leitrim” anti-fracking group present .
She said she wondered what Mac Diarmada would think of “one of the biggest environmental threats” hanging over his townland.
“For many of us walking tonight through the countryside that he loved is a dignified way of honouring him”, she said.