By Dan Walsh
The annual Liam Mellows Commemoration ceremony took place today (Sunday) at his graveside in Castletown Cemetery where Sinn Féin’s Johnny Mythen became the first Wexford TD since 1924 to deliver the oration.
“I am humbled and proud to speak at the graveside of this great Irishman,” said Deputy Mythen who described Mellows as “one of the giants of the Irish Republican struggle. “A man of tremendous conviction, who had a gift of leadership and ability to see further than his peers.”
A feature of this year’s commemoration was the unveiling of Liam Mellow’s original Sam Browne Belt, given in trust with the long term aim of finding a permanent venue in which to suitably display it in North Wexford.
Cllr Fionntán Ó Súileabháin, Leas-Cathaoirleach of Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District, was master of ceremonies and welcomed all. “It is certainly great that we are holding this commemoration today in person (and not just on zoom) especially as we stand on the cusp of his centenary -which we need to work have as one of our party’s major national commemorative events next year as well as having a programme of events throughout 2022-not just to be left until December commemoration.”
Cllr ó Súilleabháin continued; “Every winter since 1924 Republicans from all over Ireland have gathered at this windswept grave of one of Irelands greatest patriots, making this annual pilgrimage to honour one of Irelands greatest – Republican, Socialist, Gaeilgeoir – Liam O’Maoliosa or Liam Mellows, who as a prisoner of war in Mountjoy jail 99 years ago, was taken out to be executed by Free State forces – the Cumann na nGael predecessors of Fine Gael- during the Civil War (or as his friend Máire Comerford called it -the counter-revolution.
“It took until 1924 to have his body released to be buried here in Castletown, as he requested, and where he had spent his formative childhood years. As well as being an organiser for the Republican Youth wing-Na Fianna Eireann he also led the Western Division during the 1916 Rising and later went on to become the IRAs Director of Supplies.
He proudly stated the following: “I am a citizen of the Irish Republic proclaimed at Easter 1916 which has the allegiance of the overwhelming majority of the people of Ireland. I owe allegiance to one country only – Ireland –and the cause of Irish freedom, which is the cause of God.”
Captured after Free State forces shelled the Four Courts, with cannons provided by the British, Liam Mellows was later executed by firing squad on the morning of December 8th, 1922, along with Ruairi O’Connor, Joe McKelvey and Dick Barrett.
At today’s ceremony, wreaths were also laid at the grave of the Kavanagh brothers; the Proclamation was read by Cailín Ní Ghiolla Phádraig and Ger Sheehan performed a song. The Enniscorthy Re-Enactment Group were present, and the ceremony concluded when Michael Roche played Amhran na bhFiann.