By Dan Walsh at Castletown
Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, Leader of the Opposition in Dáil Éireann and President of the Sinn Féin Party was guest of honour at the 100th Liam Mellows Commemoration held in Castletown graveyard yesterday afternoon where she delivered the oration.
Deputy McDonald told the large attendance; “The yard in Mountjoy Gaol is sacred ground. A century on, its walls reverberate still with the echo of the shots fired by the Free State soldiers that ended the lives of four Irish patriots; four volunteers who bravely stood by the republic.
In the early hours of December 8th, 1922 – Joe McKelvey, Rory O’Connor, Dick Barrett and Liam Mellows were woken from their cells and told that were to be executed.
There would be no trial, no pleas, no pretence of legality.
The Free State Government openly described its execution order as one of reprisal for the killing of Seán Hales TD the day before.
They were not the first republicans to be executed by the Free State, nor would they be the last.”
Speaking of his local association, Deputy McDonald pointed out; “Though his family had hoped that he would transcend the class barrier that had prevented his grandfather and father from becoming officers in the British military, Mellows chose a different path.
“The seeds of his republicanism were planted when, as a child, he went to live with his mother’s family in Wexford.
“This was the time of the centenary of the 1798 rebellion, and Liam absorbed the stories of the Croppies, Father Murphy, and the heroic stand at Boolavogue.
“In Mountjoy Gael, as the firing squad readied the rifles, in his final hours, Mellows wrote a last letter to his beloved mother. He asked that he be laid to rest ‘in some quiet place’ here in Castletown, stated Deputy McDonald.
And she continued; “And so here we are. And so here we stand. We, the generation that Mellows foretold, stand at his quiet place. Here we stand for Irish Freedom, For equality, For Unity, For the Republic.
Here we stand to write the next chapter in our long struggle for full nationhood.”
Deputy McDonald said that Republicans are leading change right across Ireland. “We are living in the end days of partition, on the pathway to reunification in our time and the achievement of thirty-two county Irish Republic.”
Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin acted as master of ceremonies and there was great usage of ‘as Gaeilge’ during the speeches.
Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactors Society gave a balanced military history to proceedings held in winter sunshine at zero temperature conditions.
Sinn Féin members from Dublin and other parts of the country attended. The local attendees included Johnny Mythen, T.D., and Cllr Tom Forde from Wexford town, and noted was the presence of Aengus Ó Snodaigh T.D. for Dublin-South Central.
A colour party and marching band led the parade from Castletown crossroads to the cemetery where Liam Mellows is resting. Wreaths were laid, songs were sung including a well-received version of Boolavogue from Ger Sheehan. Grace Sheehan sang too! The dignified event ended with the playing of the National Anthem.