News

Wednesday 30 July 2014

1916 relatives angry over ‘being ignored’

Clodagh Sheehy

Published 23/06/2014|07:10

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22 June 2014;  Constance Cowley, right, with her daugher Clare Cowley and her grand-daughter Carla Cowley Ralph, 15.  Meeting for 1916 soldier relatives to discuss plans for the 2016 anniversary.  Wynn's hotel, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Three generations
22 June 2014;  Michael Furlong, from Saggart, grand-son of Patrick J O'Leary (served in the Four Courts Garrison), with pictures of some of his grand-father's medals.  Meeting for 1916 soldier relatives to discuss plans for the 2016 anniversary.  Wynn's hotel, Dublin. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Medals

Easter Rising relatives have formed a new association to push the Government to meet their demands for the centenary celebrations in 2016.

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They are angry that none of them has been consulted in any way about what the Government has planned to mark the 100th anniversary of the Rising, nor have they been offered invitations to any centenary events.

dignitaries

More than 150 people, all with relatives who took part in the Rising, gathered in Wynn’s Hotel in Dublin city centre yesterday and officially formed the Relatives of 1916 Association.

Dave Kilmartin, one of the founders of the group, said: “We will now form a delegation to go to the Government before the summer recess and tell them what we want.”

Mr Kilmartin, who had three relatives in the Rising, at the GPO, the Four Courts and the Mendicity Institution, which was known as The Mendo, added: “There has been no consultation with us at all. We don’t know whether or not we are getting invitations.

“We don’t know who is coming to the celebrations or the scale of the events.

“What we don’t want is to find all the relatives in a marquee in Stephen’s Green watching on a video link while all the dignitaries and politicians are down at the GPO.”

Michael Furlong, whose grandfather, Patrick J O’Leary, from Essex Street, took part in the fighting, told the Herald: “If this was France our history would be top of the cultural agenda.

“Regardless of anyone’s political inkling, this was a defining moment in our history.

“The State is trying to distance itself from the ugly side of our history.”

There was a consensus at yesterday’s meeting that the relatives should take the matter into their own hands and decide what they wanted themselves rather than wait for the Government to tell them what was happening and whether they could take part.

Paddy Houlihan, whose grandfather was at the Four Courts and whose grandmother was in Cumann na mBan, said: “We should create the programme.”

Many different opinions were expressed on whether Queen Elizabeth should be invited to the centenary celebrations. Several contributors suggested she should be included in a general invitation to the heads of state of all the EU countries.

James Heron Connolly, the great-grandson of Rising leader James Connolly, insisted, however, that it was important to set up the association first.

flag

No invitation has yet been sent to Buckingham Palace, said Mr Heron Connolly, but once the association was in place they could decide on how they would respond to such a suggestion.

Seamus Kelly, whose grandfather was in the GPO, did not mind if the Queen came “as long as she is made sit at the back with the rest of us”.

Three generations of the Cowley family from Lucan - grandmother Constance, Clare and 15-year-old Carla - attended the meeting in memory of 
Constance’s mother, Molly O’Reilly.

Constance, who is in her 80s, said her mother was given the task by Connolly to raise the flag to mark the start of the Rising.

Constance was named after Countess Constance Markievicz, with for whom Molly had worked.

Carla (15) laid a wreath at the start of yesterday’s meeting to mark the contribution of her great-grandmother and all of the women of Cumann na mBan.

csheehy@herald.ie

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