Saturday 19 August 2017

'Pearse 1916 letter too pricey for State to buy' - minister

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys and French Veterans Minister Jean-Marc Todeschini (second from right) arrive at the dedication of a Ginchy Cross ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, yesterday. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Arts Minister Heather Humphreys and French Veterans Minister Jean-Marc Todeschini (second from right) arrive at the dedication of a Ginchy Cross ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, yesterday. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Alan O'Keeffe

A letter written by Pádraig Pearse ordering the surrender of the 1916 Rising rebels will not be purchased by the Government, as it would not be the best use of State resources, said Arts Minister Heather Humphreys.

The minister defended the decision not to purchase the historic letter, as it had a guide price at an upcoming auction of up to €1.5m, which was "rather a lot," she said.

James Moore. Picture; Gery Mooney
James Moore. Picture; Gery Mooney

The Pearse letter, written three days before his execution, was brought to the rebels' garrison in the Four Courts, which then surrendered.

She said the National Museum already has other surrender letters written by Pearse to the rebels.

"The cost mentioned was between €1m and €1.5m so there were other pressures that we felt we had to meet.

"There were a number of such letters of a similar type. We felt that to spent €1m or €1.5m on one single letter would be rather a lot," she said.

Albert Sutton. Picture; Gerry Mooney
Albert Sutton. Picture; Gerry Mooney

Ms Humphreys was speaking at the unveiling of a monument at Glasnevin cemetery yesterday which was a gift from the people of France to Ireland in recognition of the sacrifice of Irishmen on French battlefields, chiefly during World War I.

The new France-Ireland Memorial was officially dedicated by French Veterans Minister Jean-Marc Todeschini and Ms Humphreys. French and Irish soldiers took part in the ceremony. The memorial is more than seven metres tall and consists of a Celtic cross surrounded by tall leaning rocks.

Three bronze battle helmets rest on nearby rocks.

The cross is a replica of a wooden cross created by men of the 16th Irish Division 100 years ago during the Battle of the Somme at the churchyard at Ginchy in France.

The mayors of Ginchy and the nearby town of Guillemont joined Dublin Lord Mayor Brendan Carr at the ceremony.

Three Irishmen who fought in France in World War II, Albert Sutton, James Moore and Jack Allshire, were awarded with the Legion of Honour by Mr Todeschini at the ceremony.

Albert Sutton (94), of Kilternan, Co Dublin, was among the first troops at the liberation of the Belsen concentration camp.

James Moore (92), of Coolbawn, Co Tipperary, spoke of landing on a Normandy beach a few days after D-Day when the Allies were still being bombed.

Barbara Allshire, the wife of Cork-born Jack Allshire, accepted a posthumous award on behalf of her husband, who died recently.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny was in Enniskillen, where he joined Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster at a wreath-laying ceremony to remember the Irish war dead.

Mr Kenny laid a wreath of green laurels at the Co Fermanagh town's war memorial.

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald laid a laurel wreath at a remembrance ceremony in Belfast.

She said: "It is really important to come together, to remember together and to look at our shared histories."

Irish Independent

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