Wednesday 28 September 2016

Generations gather to honour Peadar Kearney, the man who gave us our National Anthem

Published 28/03/2016 | 02:30

Dualta O'Broinn, great-grandson of Peadar Kearney, sings Amhrán na bhFiann at the graveside. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Dualta O'Broinn, great-grandson of Peadar Kearney, sings Amhrán na bhFiann at the graveside. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Dualta O Broinn stood proudly at the podium in Glasnevin Cemetery as he sang the National Anthem, which his great grandfather wrote.

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He was among seven of the direct descendants of Peadar Kearney who were guests of honour at the republican plot yesterday.

It is the burial place of the co-founder of the Irish Volunteers, who wrote Amhrán na bhFiann and was a personal friend of Michael Collins.

Kearney, who was also an uncle of the legendary writer Brendan Behan, was among the Republicans who were honoured in an official State wreath-laying ceremony at the cemetery to remember all of those who served and died during Easter Week 1916.

Members of the Defence Forces, along with the British and French Ambassadors to Ireland, acting Arts Minister Heather Humphreys and Minister of State Aodhán Ó Riordáin were among the dignitaries who laid wreaths at the graves of Peadar Kearney and Edward Hollywood, who delivered the first Tricolour to Ireland from France.

The ceremony began with Ms Humphreys and the British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott laying wreaths at the Sigerson Monument and the raising of the Tricolour.

The monument, which is named after its donor, the renowned Victorian writer, painter and nationalist Dora Sigerson, is a memorial to the fallen rebels of 1916 - a permanent reminder of those who died fighting for independence.

John Green, chairman of Glasnevin Trust, said: "It is fitting that we visit the grave of Edward Hollywood, who did so much to promote the Tricolour as the emblem of the United Irishmen, which led it to being raised above the GPO 100 years ago.

"The Tricolour is surely one of our greatest symbols and has rightly been at the centre of the 1916 commemorative programme.

"By laying a wreath at the grave of Peadar Kearney, we not only acknowledge the legacy he has left us, Amhrán na bhFiann, but also acknowledge the huge role that culture, in all its forms, played in our struggle for freedom."

Following the ceremony, Peadar Kearney's grandson and namesake said he was touched to be at the ceremony honouring his grandfather and the others who fought for Irish freedom.

Although he doesn't go around boasting that it was his grandfather who wrote the National Anthem, it quietly fills him with pride whenever it is played, said Peadar.

"Especially when it's played at Croke Park or when it was played at the Garden of Remembrance during the Queen's visit," he said. "It blew me away."

His brother Conal said the family was deeply honoured to be among the dignitaries at the special Easter Rising centenary commemoration at the historic cemetery.

"We are very privileged to be Kearneys and very proud of our family and our heritage," he told the Irish Independent.

"Today is probably a once-in-a-lifetime moment for us as grandchildren of Peadar to witness the 100th anniversary of the Rising," he said.

For schoolboys Tristan and Callan Clarke, it was the sight of the soldiers from the Defence Forces solemnly laying wreaths on the graves that made this Easter particularly special.

The young cousins from Glasnevin, north Dublin, were among the hundreds of spectators who paid their respects to all those who served during Easter Week 1916 as part of the official state 1916 Rising centenary celebrations.

But it wasn't just seeing the soldiers in uniform that made it a day that nine-year-old Tristan will never forget.

"It was a great day. I felt I was part of the history too," he said.

His 10-year-old cousin Callan said he too was glad that he had braved the biting wind to honour the men and women of the Rising.

"I like 1916 very much. We learned a lot about it in school," he said.

His father, Eamonn Clarke (47), said be brought the boys to the ceremony to "give thanks and praise and a bit of respect to the men that fell in 1916.

"For my kids, if they don't know where they've come from, they won't know where they're going to be going to, so that's why I brought them down," he said.

Peadar Cox (36), from Co Armagh, whose grandfather Des Cox lies buried in the republican plot, said he also felt it was important for his daughter Eimear (6) to take part in the historic celebrations, even if she is too young to understand the significance of the centenary celebrations.

"You try and teach them bits and pieces," he said.

Irish Independent

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