The sacrifices and struggles of those who laid down their lives for the country were remembered at a special commemorative event in Enniscorthy at the weekend. Featuring a re-enactment of the battles which took place in the same spot 100 years ago the event saw family members of those who died during the Battle of Enniscorthy in 1922 lay wreaths in honour of our fallen heroes.
Maria Nolan, who was integral in putting the event together, explained why it was so important to pay tribute to Maurice Spillane and Patrick O’Brien who both succumbed to their injuries following fighting.
“Enniscorthy has always been to the fore in the struggle for Irish freedom, from the pike men and women on Vinegar Hill to the volunteers at the Atheneum in 1916, to those who fought in the War of Independence and the men we commemorate here today who fought in the darkest period of our history, the Civil War;” said Maria. “Each and all of them, in their hearts and minds, believed they were contributing to Ireland’s freedom and the birth of an Irish nation, and we are here to remember with dignity and gratitude all who fought and died in these very streets, right where you stand, 100 years ago on this day, so we could walk freely in this wonderful town.”
After the re-enactment, which featured gun shots and members of the Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactment Society in full military attire, Amhrán na bhFiann was played and a procession walked to the post office where they laid wreaths for Mr Spillane and O’Brien.
The fighting which would eventually cost them their lives had been raging for three days prior, when Spillane and O’Brien were joined by a large group from Tipperary in the early hours of Wednesday morning. This group was commanded by Michael Sheehan as well as Ernie O’Malley, Sean Lemass and Paddy O Brien, the latter three having escaped from Four Courts in Dublin,
Maurice Spillane, who was from Enniscorthy, was part of a group who attacked Friarly Place at the rear of the post office, a building which they believed to be occupied by Free State forces.
After they smashed a window and threw in grenades, Spillane was shot and wounded by a sniper. He was attended to by doctors but was beyond help. He worked as a shoemaker in the town and was previously active during the War of Independence. Based upon his age in the 1911 census Spillane was just 18 years of age at the time of his death.
Patrick O Brien, a native of Inchicore, had been shot through the lung and would later die in the county home in Enniscorthy on Tuesday, July 11. He was just 24 years of age.
His remains were subsequently brought to the cathedral that evening and were saluted by Free State soldiers passing through the Market Square. Recalling the loss of his comrade O’ Malley described himself and Sean Lemass visiting O’ Brien while he was being cared for in the hospital. Here they found that he was beyond medical help and was slowly dying.
After saying their heartfelt goodbyes, they left and O‘Malley remarked “the capture of this place was never worth his loss”. To which Sean Lemass replied “No, I wish we had never come near this damn place”.