Sunday 22 September 2019

General Liam Lynch a true Irish patriot

Great granddaughter of 1916 hero to deliver Kilcrumper graveside oration

Bill Browne

The memory of one of Ireland's most respected and revered patriots will be recalled at the annual national Liam Lynch commemoration ceremony in Fermoy's Kilcrumper Old Cemetery, Fermoy this coming Sunday.

This year's oration will be delivered by Michelle Drysdale, the great grand-daughter of 1916 Rising hero and Proclamation signatory Thomas MacDonagh.  She will join a list of high-profile figures to have addressed the event over the years including former Taosigh Jack lynch, Albert Reynolds, Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowan, civil rights campaigner Fr Joe McVeigh, Fianna Faíl leader Micheál Martin, former senator Eoghan Harris, Senator Mark Daly and Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív.  Chair of the organising committee, Cllr Deirdre O'Brien, said Ms Drysdale was a popular choice to deliver the oration, given her great grandfathers strong links to Fermoy.  A poet, playwright and soldier Thomas MacDonagh, taught Latin, English and French at St Colman's College from 1903-1908. During his time in Fermoy MacDonagh developed his love for the Irish language, and was instrumental in founding a branch of the Gaelic League.

He was also one of the founding members of the ASTI (Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland), which began at St Colman's College in 1908.  In 2016 Ms Drysdale unveiled a plaque in his honour at the school. "Michelle also delivered the oration at the renaming of Kent Bridge in Fermoy in 2016. Her speech was very well received so she was an obvious candidate to deliver the Liam Lynch oration, particularly as we were keen that a female did it this year,"  said Cllr O'Brien.  Sunday's event will get underway with 10.30am mass at St Patrick's Church which will be attended members of the public and dignitaries including County Mayor Cllr Christopher O'Sullivan.

Following mass there will be a parade from Kilcrumper Cross to the cemetery where wreaths will be laid at the Republican plot, the final resting place of Liam Lynch and other Republican figures including Commandant Mick Fitzgerald prior to the delivery of the oration. Cllr O'Brien said Liam Lynch's comrades in arms had decided to hold the commemoration in September to mark the attack on the Westleyan Church in Fermoy on September 7, 1919 - the first such attack on armed British military since the 1916 Rising.  She said they also wanted to mark the last military engagement of Commandant Fitzgerald from Fermoy, who is buried in the Republican plot at Kilcrumper.  "As a result of his involvement in the Westleyan Church raid Comdt Fitzgerald was arrested and remanded continuously until he and others were forced to go on the famous hunger strike which resulted in his death on 20th October 1920 following 67 days on hunger strike," said Cllr O'Brien.  "In continuing the commemoration, we are keeping celebration and presentation of heritage and the remembrance of those lost with honour," she added.