Saturday 24 March 2018

Flag flies high in Athenry to recall largest of the 1916 raids outside Dublin

Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan TD lays a wreath at the Athenry ceremony Photo: Andrew Downes
Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan TD lays a wreath at the Athenry ceremony Photo: Andrew Downes
Edel Quinn (grand daughter of Mary Ann Rooney, Cumann na mBan) and Brian Cleary (grandson of Irish Volunteers VP Tomas B Cleary) who unveiled a plaque in Athenry Photo: Andrew Downes

Declan Rooney

Galway rebels led the largest raid outside of Dublin during the Easter Rising - and yesterday thousands of people attended the 1916 centenary celebrations at Athenry Castle to remember them.

Skills and Education minister Jan O'Sullivan led the wreath-laying ceremony which took place at Town Park.

Thousands of people lined the streets around Athenry Castle with entertainment laid on by local musicians and dancers.

After the wreath-laying ceremony at 1.15pm, Minister O'Sullivan was joined by the Mayor of Co Galway, Cllr Peter Roche, for the unveiling of Macnamh, a commemorative sculpture carved by Gort artist Jethro Sheen.

The Liam Mellows commemorative garden - named after the leader of the Co Galway raids - was also officially opened in the centre of Athenry town by Fr Brendan Kilcoyne, PP of Athenry Parish.

A 1916 commemorative plaque was also unveiled by Noel Treacy at Kenny Park, the town's GAA ground, which is named after one of the rebel leaders, Tom Kenny.

As part of the main ceremony at Athenry Town Park, members of the Irish Defence Forces played a large role in events. The Proclamation was read by Comdt Frank Flannery; the national flag was raised by Lt Seamus Shannon; the Piper's Lament was played by Cpl Joseph Hession, and the Last Post was played by Sgts Michael McLoughlin and David Colgan.

Then 100 knitted white Centenary roses, which were created by the local Athenry Craft and Chat group, were dotted around the Tricolour. There was a large GAA involvement in the day's activities too, with a parade to and from Athenry Castle by members of each GAA club in Co Galway.

A banner depicting each GAA club's name was carried by club members. Galway city club Liam Mellows was itself named after the English-born rebel leader.

Speaking at the event, Galway GAA Committee chairman and former Fianna Fáil TD Noel Treacy paid tribute to the clubs and the heroes of 100 years ago.

"Cumann Lúth Cleas Gael is a proud partner in today's national ceremony and all of our clubs have already paraded through this town twice today, to pay full homage to our predecessors from 1916," he said.

"As a national voluntary community sports organisation, conceived in nearby Loughrea in 1884, we are proud to have all of our clubs represent the communities of every parish in Co Galway, both urban and rural, including all of our many former members, who were part of Easter Week here in 1916 and have now gone to their eternal reward."

Historical lectures and the unveiling of the 1916 archives at Athenry Town Hall concluded the activities.

Irish Independent

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