Tuesday 13 November 2018

Mary (98) recalls her vigil the day Kevin Barry was hanged

Martha Kearns

A 98-YEAR-OLD woman will tomorrow re-live the vigil she kept outside Mountjoy Jail on the eve of Kevin Barry's execution.

Mary Williams, originally from Artane, was just 17 when she joined the crowd saying Rosaries and lighting candles outside the prison where Barry and nine others were waiting to be hanged during the War of Independence.

Her two grandsons, brothers Paul and Philip Brennan, who are now prison officers at Mountjoy, will lead the funeral march tomorrow.

"There were thousands there and this lady in the crowd told me that his (Kevin Barry's) poor mother used to go in twice a day to see him and she was heartbroken. We were all so sad," said Mary, from her home in Dublin's Kilbarrack where she now lives with her son and his wife.

"It's going to be a big day and I would love to be there. But I'm 98 and a half and am in a wheelchair, so my family think it would take too much out of me."

Tomorrow's ceremony will be an emotional time for many people, including Limerick man Billy McGuire. He is the grand nephew of Tom McGuire who was heavily involved in the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

Tom bought Vaughan's Hotel on Parnell Square on behalf of the IRB and much of its activities, including the drafting of the Proclamation of Independence, were carried out there.

Billy is to lay a wreath of 12 Easter lilies in the Garden of Remembrance to personally mark the occasion.

Following a short prayer service, the funeral cortege will leave from Mountjoy prison at noon. The Volunteers' remains will be brought to Westmoreland Street before a slow march to the GPO, and then on to the Pro-Cathedral, where Cardinal Cahal Daly will bless the coffins before a Requiem Mass.

Up to 700 relatives of the men will be at the Mass, as well as representatives of the Government and armed forces.

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