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Land War hero focus of major commemorations


A project to erect a monument in memory of Sean Riobaird O Suilleabhain comes to fruition on a unveiling at the Kerryman's Table on Sunday, August 24 at 2pm. Known far and wide as 'The Bard", he campaigned during the Land struggle, sentenced to 24 years hard labour but he survived and became a national hero during his lifetime.

Seán Riobaird O Súilleabháin was the acknowledged leader of the Land War in the North Cork area. He was universally known as 'the Bard' though he was not a poet but the nickname was taken from the Irish of name, Riobaird. He played such a distinctive role through a recognisable nickname.

Born in Glenleigh, Kilcorney on February 4, 1852, he became involved in the Land War in the late 1870s when the Land League was leading the struggle for tenant farmers' rights. Because of his courage and daring in the Land War, The Bard quickly became a hero to the people but public enemy number one for the authorities in North Cork.

His wife, Ellen O'Mullane was a devoted partner in his struggle, the couple lived in a house supplied by the Land League in Glantane East.

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With constant harassment and convictions the authorities were determined to remove him from the leadership but could not do so in his native area as no jury would convict him.

Ultimately, the Bard was convicted on a trumped-up attempted murder charge in Nenagh in December 1891 by a 'packed jury' and sentenced to 24 years hard labour.

His wife Ellen reared their six children while he was in prison and broke stones on these roads to survive.

Released in late 1906, the Bard returned to Millstreet and became an active supporter of William O'Brien and the 'All for Ireland League.'

He also played an active part in the War of Independence, saluting the departure of the Auxiliaries from Millstreet shortly before his death. Ellen lived out her latter years in Ballinatona outside Millstreet and passed away surrounded by her family.

The new monument on the famous Butter Road at the Kerryman's Table is being erected in salute of The Bard and his wife and to all of those people who fought heroically to achieve the ownership of the land of Ireland for the people of Ireland and the political freedom the country enjoys today.