Sunday 19 November 2017

Dedicated Denis passes Collins's baton

Breda Heffernan

Breda Heffernan

FOR more than 30 years he tended the grave of his hero, Michael Collins, without seeking recognition.

However, Denis Lenihan (81) has now passed the baton to three history buffs.

The bachelor from Sherrard Street in Dublin's north inner city first came across Mr Collins's grave in Glasnevin Cemetery in 1979 while visiting his mother's grave and was shocked by its shabby condition.

He has a longstanding respect for the revolutionary leader because he credits him with bringing his mother and father together.

His father was in the Royal Irish Constabulary, which was disbanded in 1921. The Civic Guard was set up in its place by Michael Collins.

Denis's father was sent to Thurles, Co Tipperary, where he then met his future wife.

For 32 years now, he has made a weekly pilgrimage to the grave in all weathers and placed fresh flowers, which he paid for out of his own pocket.

However, it was while doing this work that Denis recently fell and injured his back and now three members of the Collins 22 Society -- James Langton, Paul Fleming and Ron Daly -- have stepped into the breach to help him out.

"They have been a great help. My back is fine now but it's easier now that there are four of us doing it," said Denis.

"My hope is that with them, it will go on forever," he added.

"When Denis injured himself, he had been doing a fantastic job for 30 years all on his own . . . Even now he still tries to get involved, he's as enthusiastic as ever," remarked Paul.

The group has noticed a resurgence in interest in Mr Collins as the centenary of the 1916 Rising approaches.

"It is about preserving the grave. For so long he was airbrushed out of history," said Paul.

Irish Independent

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