Monteith's Tricolour proudly flown at Banna ceremony

Dónal Nolan

The foresight of the original committee responsible for the erection of the famous Casement monument in Banna was lauded at a special ceremony last week marking its first half century.

And it was made that bit more special by virtue of the presence of both the last surviving member of the original committee - Kilmoyley native Seán Seosamh Ó Conchubhair - and what is believed to have been the very flag Robert Monteith had in his possession as he made landfall with Casement at Banna in the early hours of Good Friday, April 21, 1916.

MC'd by Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa, the ceremony - held on Sunday, November 25 - had at its core an oration by one of the county's leading historians of the Independence struggle, Dr Tim Horgan. National Graves Association Kerry representative Dr Horgan - who recently published Fighting for the Cause: Kerry's Republican Fighters - also outlined the history of a priceless artefact he brought to the event: Monteith's Tricolour. 

"It's believed that Monteith and Casement came in with two flags: one, a tricolour, and the other the Limerick flag, which somebody had given to Casement to be flown in Limerick."

Casement was, of course, captured, flag et al, but Monteith famously evaded capture via a remote Glenageenty hideout. 

"His daughter, Florence Monteith Lynch, donated materials to the National Graves Association on her death, and among them was found the Tricolour flag, with a note pinned to it reading :'This flag was flown in the 1916 Rising'.

"You really would have to prove that this wasn't the flag Monteith had in his possession as all the evidence supports the likelihood that it was, and it may well have been flown here on Easter Sunday, when the Volunteers paraded in Tralee under Monteith's command," Dr Horgan explained.

The ceremony also included contributions from Brian Caball, Ciarán Daltún, Senan Cotter, Denis O'Reilly, Donal Dowling and John Mason, as well as the original committee member Seán Seosamh, who played a key role in the 1968 installation of the famous monument, now under the care of the National Graves Association. 

"Seán Seosamh was a driving force of the committee formed in 1965, with the sod turned in 1966 and the monument ultimately erected in 1968," Dr Horgan said.

"But for the foresight of those committee members in placing the monument where it is, few would know at this stage where Casement came in - through the dunes immediately opposite the monument. 

"They knew the exact position thanks to Monteith's return in 1948 when he pointed out the locations," Dr Horgan added. Locals play a huge part in maintaining  the memorial, with Michael Moynihan and James O'Donoghue repairing it as needed and Donal Dowling keeping the Tricolour flying on a regular basis.