Remembering formation of Irish volunteers

A public forum will be held in the Ivy Leaf Art Centre on this Friday night at 8.30 p.m. to mark the centenary of the formation of the Irish Volunteers in Castleisland on April 5,1914.

A vivid account of events is contained in the book published by The Kerryman, 'Kerry's Fighting Story' which tells how a branch of the Irish Volunteers was inaugurated in Castleisland "following a huge public meeting which was addressed from the balcony of The Crown Hotel".

"Amongst those on the platform were: M. P. McElligott, W. H.O'Connor, R.D.C., T. T. O'Connor, Land Leaguer; John Geaney and Jeremiah Kelliher. Kelliher who was 82 years of age at the time, walked about seven miles to be present at the meeting - which was also attended by: T. Wren, R .Finn. T.D Reidy, Denis J. Reidy, Thomas Costelloe, M. Keane, L. Curtin, R.J.Walsh, R.E.Shanahan, C.J.Brown, H. Knight and Jeremiah Laide. W. H. O'Connor and M.P. McElligott presided, and M. P. McElligott was appointed Secretary to the Volunteers; Denis J. Reidy was instructed to make arrangements for drill. The meeting was addressed by Diarmuid Crean, Chairman of the County Board, and by James McDonnell, John Collins and J.M. Collins of the Tralee Volunteer Committee."

Great activity followed the inaugural meeting, and drilling, parades and lectures took place weekly. The corps, which was strongly represented at the Killarney Oireachtas in 1914, continued to make progress until the Redmondite 'split' in October, 1914. On Sunday November 8, a huge meeting in support of the Irish Volunteers and Eoin Mac Neill took place in the town, attended by close 1,000 Volunteers, many of them armed. The Castleisland Corps was augmented by contingents from Cordal and Scartaglin, and by a detachment from Tralee accompanied by the Strand Street Fife and Drum Band which led the parade.

The account of the meeting in 'Kerry's Fighting Story' notes that W. H. O'Connor was appointed Chairman and D. J. Griffin, Secretary. The gathering was addressed by W. H. O' Connor, Castleisland; B. O'Connor, R.D.C., Scartaglin ; T. T. O'Connor ; Desmond Fitzgerald representative of the Provisional Committee ; M. J O'Connor, Tom Slattery and Austin Stack of Tralee.


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