National Heritage Week is going from strength to strength.
Last year in Ireland there were over 400,000 participants throughout Heritage Week, attending one or many of the 1,826 events that took place nationally; 87% of these events were free and 99% of people 'would recommend National Heritage Week to a friend' (based on recent survey finding by the Heritage Council).
The County of Cork, this year, already has over 120 events lined up for National Heritage Week, which takes place between August 20th and 28th. To widely promote these events, Cork County Council will produce an events guide for County Cork and any organisers wishing to have their event listed in the programme is requested to register their details online at www.heritageweek.ie prior to this Friday, 8th July. Let us hope for a most successful Heritage Week again in the Centenary Year of 2016.
This year has been very much about commemoration, as we remember the defining moments of Easter Week in 1916, one hundred year ago. However, we must also cast our minds back to the Ireland before this, and the many efforts made in the fight for freedom, over many centuries. Cork County Council's Heritage Unit is currently producing a book that will tell the story of the defining moments of Ireland's Revolutionary heritage as told through the people and places of County Cork. Many local history groups have submitted details of relevant sites in their locality, which will add greatly to the overall scope and depth of the book. The book is set for release in December 2016.
One of the Irish movements discussed in the publication is the role of the Fenians, both here in Cork, Ireland and indeed overseas. For example, in June 1866 the Fenians invaded Canada and many would also be familiar with the events in Manchester, England, in 1867, resulting in the death of William Philip Allen (of County Cork), Philip Larkin, and Captain Michael O'Brien (of County Cork), historically referred to as the Manchester Martyrs.
One very well known Cork Fenian is Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, but Captain Timothy Deasy from Clonakilty is another household name. Captain Deasy held a significant military position within the Irish Republican Brotherhood/Fenians and played a major role in many historic events including the Fenian invasion of Canada by the Irish Republican Army. He subsequently commanded a battalion of Fenian troops at Millstreet during the Fenian Rising of 1867, and was the Fenian's military commander for both Manchester and Liverpool as well as Chief-of-Staff to Colonel Thomas P. Kelly, Commander-in-Chief of the IRB/Fenian Brotherhood.
On September 11, 1867, Colonel Kelly and Captain Deasy were the central figures rescued from the British authorities in Manchester, with three of those involved in the rescue - the Manchester Martyrs - having been executed two months later.
Last week, Captain Timothy Deasy's great grandnephew Robert Bateman, of Lawrence, Massachusetts, now living in Ossining, New York, together with his wife Camille, visited the office of the Mayor of County Cork, Cllr. Séamus McGrath. Accompanied also by his colleague Gene McCarthy and grandson Cian McCarthy as well as Conor Nelligan and Martin Millerick from Cork County Council's Heritage Unit. Mr. Bateman made a most wonderful presentation. in light of the forthcoming 150th anniversary in 2017, of the Smashing of the Van and Manchester Martyrs' execution, Mr. Bateman presented some wonderful items concerning Captain Deasy to Cork County Council, which will be housed in the Millstreet Museum. These items include a medal; a framed and engraved picture of Captain Deasy in his United States Army Dress Uniform; a Resolution in Honor of Captain Deasy from the City of Lawrence City Council and a Citation in his Honor from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Also presented by Mr. Bateman was a wonderful sketch of the Fenian Invasion of Canada in June 1866.
County Mayor Cllr. Séamus McGrath, sincerely thanked Mr. Bateman and said that, "the people of Cork and indeed Millstreet will be most grateful to have this wonderful heritage in the Museum" adding further to the importance of sharing and promoting our Irish - American heritage, of which Captain Timothy Deasy is very much a proud part.
Another household name relating to Ireland's revolutionary history is Thomas Hunter. He was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Féin, the Irish Volunteers and was twice elected to Dáil Éireann. In his role as part of the Irish Volunteers he was in fact Vice-Commandant of the 2nd Battalion Dublin Brigade, under Thomas MacDonagh. Thomas Hunter was born in Castletownroche and in his memory, the Thomas Hunter Park Resident's Assocation has oragnised a commemorative event for Friday 8th July at 7.30pm, where a plaque will be unveiled, followed by a historical talk and subsequent refreshments and music.
A few days later on Monday, 11th July, there will be a guided tour of the Cork City and County Archives, showcasing the many documents and ephemera held in relation to the Easter Rising of 1916 and indeed the entire 1912-1922 revolutionary period. Tours commence at 11am and again 3pm and booking is essential by phoning 021 4505876.
Another event, for which many people will be looking to book a place, will be the Theatre by the Lake Festival in Gougane Barra, which takes place from Thursday 14th July until the 31st. The three-week series will include a number of plays and not least, from a 1916 perspective, a wonderful new play entitled 'The Big Fellow' which is based on Frank O' Connor's biography of Michael Collins. This play will run for 6 nights from Monday 25th to Saturday 30th inclusive with ticket prices ranging from €20 to €25. See www.gouganebarrahotel.com for more information.