By Dan Walsh at Castletown
“Peace is precious and my fervent hope for the next generation of politicians on this island is that we consign for ever to the dustbin of history polarised politics so that debate will focus on social, economic and climate issues and securing a better, more prosperous and sustainable future for all our children and grandchildren,” former Taoiseach and architect of the Good Friday Agreement, Bertie Ahern, said at today’s Liam Mellows Centenary Commemoration in Castletown.
“As we look to the future and the second century of our independent statehood, we honour all those who fought and died for their vision of a free Ireland that they wished to shape. But we should also hold firm to the conviction that in our mature, democratic society, we have now arrived at a point in our history where no-one needs on this island to fight and die to protect their national identity, their liberties or freedoms.”
Mr Ahern recalled; “Ernie O’Malley said affectionately of Mellows that he was “our greatest loss. One thought of him as a clear flame, steadfast, burning of its own strength” while Robert Briscoe described him as “a bright golden flame of conscience and courage.” Perhaps, the biggest tragedy and lesson we should take from our Civil War is that the country lost so many of its “best and brightest” leaders – Mellows, Collins, Cathal Brugha, Arthur Griffith, Erskine Childers, Sean Hales, Liam Lynch and many more – at a time when they were badly needed to build up our new State.”
Mr Ahern thanked Lorcan Allen and the local committee for inviting him to speak in Wexford and was pleased to be here in Wexford to address this commemoration in honour of a revered Irish patriot.
Mr Ahern recalled; “In December 1923, addressing the first Liam Mellows commemoration, a year on from his tragic execution, an extrajudicial killing, which seriously departed from the rule of law, Countess Markiewicz said of Liam Mellows that he was “one of Ireland’s most loyal and honoured commandants, a great soldier, as brave as could be found, and a man worthy of the people’s gratitude.”
Today’s attendance included Minister James Browne, Jim O’Callaghan T.D., Billy Kelleher MEP, Senator Malcolm Byrne, Cllrs Donal Kenny, Pip Breen, Joe Sullivan, Andrew Bolger, Barbara-Anne Murphy, John Fleming, members of Enniscorthy Re-enactment Historical Society, musician Mark Redmond and others.
Former TD Lorcan Allen welcomed everybody and acted as master of ceremonies and the parade was led by a piper, a lament was played, and the event concluded with the National Anthem. Refreshments were provided afterwards in the Golden Anchor, Castletown.