`A fitting memorial to those that died

By Trish ODeaTHE beautiful Remembrance Stone unveiled in Dromina on this Easter Monday by Minister for State at the Department of Arts,...

>`A fitting memorial to those that died’

O’Cuiv unveils Remembrance Stone in poignant ceremony

By Trish O’Dea

THE beautiful Remembrance Stone unveiled in Dromina on this Easter Monday by Minister for State at the Department of Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Eamon O’Cuiv,

allows us to remember those who played an active part in changing history, Minister O’Cuiv said.

The sun shone on the impressively organised ceremony which was attended by a very large crowd, many of whom were descendants of those named and honoured on the Remembrance Stone.

``I think that today is a particularly fitting day, the 84th anniversary to the exact date of the 1916 Rising, for you to be unveiling this Remembrance Stone,’’ Minister O’Cuiv said.

He added: ``In remembering them we remember all of those who actively participated in changing history.``It reminds us of their commitment to founding a nation, not only for themselves but for their children and their children’s children.’’

The people of Dromina had a direct connection with the Rising, Minister O’Cuiv outlined, through Maurice Brennan who fought at Cabra Bridge in Dublin on that faithful week.

He was sentenced to death for his role in the Rising, but the sentence was subsequently commuted and he was sent to prison in England. ``He took great pride always in the Dromina company who both inspired him and were inspired by him,’’ Minister O’Cuiv noted.

However: ``It was in the period after 1916 that the Dromina company, its IRA section and the families that provided safe houses for people on the run, grew to be one of the biggest companies in the county.’’

It was, we know from the meticulous research carried out by the Remembrance Stone Committee, a well organised and disciplined company, Minister O’Cuiv said.

Paying tribute to the local committee, he added: ``It was their determination and community spirit that has brought us to this ceremony here today.’’ He said that it is only fitting that a Millennium Project be one connected with 1916 `because what 1916 was about was a fresh renewal’.

Looking to the future, the Minister noted: ``It is fair to say that on this particular Easter Monday we stand at the threshold of a new Ireland where there is a chance to create shared institutions put in place by the vote of all of the people of this island.’’

He added: ``The men and women of 1916 would be very proud of our achievements and they would also support our efforts to bring about a just and lasting peace in Ireland.’’

The Minister did, however, sound a note of caution: ``It is important in the new Ireland that greed does not take over and destroy much of what has been achieved by the hard work and sacrifice of other generations.’’

The hardworking committee behind the erection of the 5’ x 8’ limestone monument was led by local man Jim Brennan, who told the crowd gathered at the unveiling:``The stone speaks for itself and for the women and men we are honouring here this afternoon.’’

He added: ``A special thanks to all of you who have supported this community effort especially those of you who gave your time and effort and your financial support.’’

The committee were delighted when Dromina Community Council offered them a beautiful site alongside the community centre to locate the stone, which bears the names of over 70 local people who were directly involved in the struggle for Independence, including Dan Murphy, who was killed in Kilmallock on July 28 1922.

The stone also bears the names of 12 local active members of Cumann na mBan as well as the 23 families who provided safe houses for those on the run during those troubled times.

In researching this project, the local committee carried out numerous interviews with families and relatives as well as consulting the archives of the Department of Defence.

The best known amongst those from Dromina who took part in the Easter Rising include the aforementioned Maurice Brennan, from Farthingville, who received a heroes welcome when he returned to the railway station in Rath Luirc after his release from an English prison at the end of 1917.

Also, Mairead and William O’Callaghan, who hailed from Curraglass, were known to have been very active in Dublin during this period. And the Dromina company itself had a widespread reputation for providing a place of safety to all involved in the cause.

In May 1921 a British army raid took place at the O’Donnell safe-house in Aughrim where Liscarroll Volunteers Commandant Paddy O’Brien, his brother Donal O’Brien and Jack Reagan were staying.

In the escape from the house Donal was wounded while Paddy, pursued by British soldiers, made an incredible escape by running all the way across the fields to Freemount Village.

The wounded Donal O’Brien and Jack Reagan, as well as the O’Donnell family who offered them their home, were arrested and Donal was executed shortly afterwards in Cork jail.

Many such stories have been unearthed during the research project involved prior to the unveiling of the Remembrance Stone, which stands now as an epitaph to an amazing generation.