independent

Saturday 18 August 2018

Skerries honour for Irish volunteer Thomas Hand

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IRISH volunteer and Skerries native Thomas Hand was honoured at the weekend as part of the National Heritage Week celebrations which focused on the War of Independence.Organised by Skerries Historical Society, a plaque was unveiled at the end of Baltrasna Lane by Hands niece, Molly Wherity. Her mother Bridget Wherity was in the family home on Baltrasna Lane when Hand w

By Fergal Maddock

IRISH volunteer and Skerries native Thomas Hand was honoured at the weekend as part of the National Heritage Week celebrations which focused on the War of Independence.

Organised by Skerries Historical Society, a plaque was unveiled at the end of Baltrasna Lane by Hand’s niece, Molly Wherity.

Her mother Bridget Wherity was in the family home on Baltrasna Lane when Hand was shot by British forces on December 5, 1920.

The black polished granite plaque measures 20 inches by 13 inches and was made by Thomas Reid and Sons from Drogheda.

Among the crowd was a delegation from the National Heritage Week organisation which visited a number of sites around the area, including Baldungan Castle where Hand is buried.

They also visited the Sherlock, Hand and McGowan memorial at the cemetery.

Two of Hand’s children are still alive, his daughter Betty McKenna lives in Balbriggan, and his son Thomas lives on Golf Course Road in Skerries.

Thomas Hand was born in 1873 and was one of 12 children. His father Thomas was a small farmer on Baltrasna Lane.

During his life, he had various jobs, mainly labouring jobs, including working in the quarry. He finished up working in a bakery in Skerries. He was also very involved in Transport and General Workers Union of which he was branch secretary.

A street in Skerries was named after the volunteer in the late 40s.

He was involved in 1916 Rising in Ashbourne and after that, like a lot of others, he was shipped off to the Frognoch internment camps in Wales, He was there from May 1916 to May 1917.

When he came back he intensified his involvement in the political movement. He was also a very keen student of the Irish language.

As the fight for independence went on, and the Black and Tans arrived in Ireland, Thomas Hand became a marked man. Compelled to go on the run, he lived in various safe houses.



On the night he was shot he returned to the house at Baltrasna Lane. Soon after the Black and Tans surrounded the house. As Thomas went to escape, he was shot as he was getting out of the window.









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