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Tuesday 20 February 2018

Relatives wear 1916 medals with pride at Arbour Hill

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

The faded 1916 service medals on their chests were proudly displayed.

Now, as the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising looms closer, it is mainly grand-daughters and grandsons who have pinned the ribbons to their lapels.

"We're proud of them," said Con O'Neill, whose daughters Cara and Katy O'Neill sported three medals apiece, belonging to Mr O'Neill's father and mother.

They stood alongside the 1916 leaders' graves at Arbour Hill, where those who were executed were re-interred.

Mr O'Neill explained that "quite a number" of women played roles during the "extraordinary times" of the Easter Rising, including his mother May Gibney, who knocked on the doors of the GPO on Easter Monday.

"She called in there on Monday . . . She cooked breakfast, chicken, for (Thomas) McDonagh who wasn't too well at the time.

"They did various things like loading rifles and administered to the sick and injured."

Ms Gibney, along with the other women, escaped when Padraig Pearse gave the orders for the women to disperse, however, she was later captured and also spent time in Kilmainham Jail during the Civil War.

Stories

She was engaged to Dick McKee, commandant of the Dublin Brigade, who was shot dead on Bloody Sunday, November 21, 1920.

She went on to marry Mr O'Neill's father, Laurence O'Neill, brigade officer with the IRA in Carlow.

It was just one of the many stories behind the dozens of relations of those who played a part in the Rising at yesterday's annual commemoration.

President Michael D Higgins inspected the guard of honour from the 2nd Infantry Battalion of Cathal Brugha Barracks. He later laid a wreath at the graveside.

Among those in attendance was Taoiseach Enda Kenny, many members of the Cabinet, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, Chief Justice Susan Denham, Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan and Attorney General Maire Whelan.

In his eulogy paying tribute to those who died in 1916, Bishop of Ferns Denis Brennan told the packed Church of the Sacred Heart that the Rising was a very public event played out mainly on the streets of Dublin.

"We sometimes forget that public people, like the people who led the 1916 Rising, are also private people, sons, daughters, fathers, sisters, husbands," he said.

"We are so used to seeing them in their public roles we can be blind to the fact that they were loved and are still missed by their families," he added.

Irish Independent

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