Liberator O'Connell's famed speech rings out again after 170 years
A CITY suburb went back in time yesterday when it re-enacted a speech given 170 years ago by the Liberator, Daniel O'Connell.
Residents of Shantalla, Galway, dressed in 1843 style and cheered and chanted along as the Repeal of the Union speech was performed at the historic site where it was first delivered to 300,000 people.
Students from Scoil Bhride and Scoil Fhursa dressed as street urchins and joined in the celebrations, chanting on the Liberator as he arrived at Emancipation Rock.
President Michael D Higgins returned to his old constituency for the event, and was warmly welcomed home by old friends.
Galway actor Seamus Hughes won praise and admiration from the president for his 35-minute rendition of the speech.
"The president was delighted – he would be very familiar with O'Connell and his speeches so it was certainly a tough audience," he joked.
Mr Higgins praised the community for their efforts and commended the local area as "the very essence of Galway city".
"I have a great affection for these people and I admire their efforts. I share their heritage and I'm very much with them in re-doing these historical events," he said.
Mr Higgins spoke of his delight at his visits to the city where he lived and worked for decades, adding that he hopes to return more frequently this summer.
"It's always wonderful. I know some of the young people but I also know their grandparents," he said.
"If you've been, as I was, a representative for over 30 years you meet a lot of people. It's a great privilege to be back."
The event was part of a nine-day festival to mark the 70th anniversary of the Shantalla area.