Bridge to honour 1916 hero Philip

Rossin Bridge has been renamed in memory of Duleek-born fighter

Members of the Clarke family with officials from Meath and Louth County Councils at the renaming of the bridge at Rossin on Friday

Hubert MurphyDrogheda Independent

Driving over the river at Rossin will never be the same again for the descendants of Philip Clarke, the local man shot dead during the Easter Rising.

Last Friday, as the snow cleared from the fields on the Louth/Meath border, the bridge at Rossin was renamed, officially, Philip Clarke Bridge, perhaps the opening shot in this region's true celebration of the heroes of 1916.

Joan Dorey, his niece, watched on as officials from both county councils, and members of the community feted the man who has always been part of her life.

With grandsons also present, Joan remarked that a special committee was elected four years ago to keep the name of Philip Clarke burning and each year they lay a wreath at the bridge.

It is special as it was on this exact spot that Joan's father, Philip's younger brother, was told that the young rebel had perished in the battle.

'It's a great day for the family,' she stated. She grew up with the story and how Philip's widow was left with eight children and no pension and the Clarke family had to help them out.

Philip was killed in action on April 25th 1916 and there are two stories surrounding his death. One says he was strengthening barricades outside the Shelbourne Hotel when a sniper shot him. Another, that he was on the steps of the Royal College of Surgeons when he was gunned down, Countess Markievicz witnessing the shots and returning fire, killing the sniper.

Philip was born in Duleek and the family moved to Monknewtown, Slane. He went off to work as a van driver in Dublin and married Monica Fitzroy and they lived in Cork Street in 1916.

He was an active member of the Gaelic League and the GAA and was a member of the John Boyle O'Reilly football team from Monknewtown.

He is buried in Glasnevin.

Cllr Wayne Harding PRO for the commemoration group said he was delighted with the turnout. "We are actually overwhelmed with the amount of people who came out on such a dreadful morning. It really shows the interest that is in the area about Philip Clarke and indeed the communities connections to the rising. Somebody said to me this morning that it is a humpbacked bridge you would go across and not notice. That is not the case anymore.

'We have two beautiful heritage signs on both approaches to the bridge and people will immediately see the patriots name. It has been a year since I put down a motion to Meath County Council , but it has been worth the wait for this day.'

As part of the celebrations, there will be mass in Monknewtown church at 12 noon on Saturday the 12th March followed by a parade to the Philip Clarke Bridge and there will be a wreath laying ceremony.

The official opening of an exhibition in Glebe House will take place after that and the house is again open to the public from 11am to 6pm on Sunday March 13th.