Memorial to brothers Patrick and Harry Loughnane at Moy O Hynes Woods, near Ardrahan

Roadside memorials

2Erected to the memory of the Meathmen and Wexfordmen, who fought and died for freedom in 1798, and whose remains lie in the vicinity of Summerhill, Culmullen and Dunshaughlin. May God have mercy on their souls"
“Erected to the memory of the Meathmen and Wexfordmen, who fought and died for freedom in 1798, and whose remains lie in the vicinity of Summerhill, Culmullen and Dunshaughlin. May God have mercy on their souls”

“We remember, we respect, we honour”

In the midst of the current debate on fitting ways to commemorate the “decade of centenaries”, I think it worth mentioning that throughout the country there are countless roadside memorials to those who died in the course of Ireland’s fight for freedom. Local initiatives, heritage societies, and bodies such as the National Graves Association have over the years erected plaques and statues dedicated to the memory of figures from the time of the 1798 Rebellion through to the end of the Civil War in 1923, ordinary men and women who paid with their lives for caring about their communities, their culture, their freedom.

Plaque in Ennistymon inmemory of Hugh Kildea and Michael Murphy, hanged for their part in the United Irishman rebellion of 1798
Plaque in Ennistymon inmemory of Hugh Kildea and Michael Murphy, hanged for their part in the United Irishman rebellion of 1798

Perhaps one contribution to the “decade of centenaries” might be the compilation of a public database of those memorials, an acknowledgement of people such as Harry and Pat Loughnane, Shanaglish, Gort. The brothers were arrested by Black and Tan forces in November 1920 and ten days later their bodies were discovered – the brothers had been tortured,dragged behind a lorry, and the bodies set alight.  In the same month, cousins John  and Patrick O’Brien, of Nenagh, Co Tipperary, were arrested by by Crown forces; their mutilated bodies were later found at Knigh Cross, Nenagh. In Clare,  Hugh Kildea,  a hedgeschool teacherfrom Moy, led a group of hundreds of United Irishmen in rebellion against the Crown. He was captured and in March 1799 was hung in the nearby town of Ennistymon.

Memorial at Knigh Cross, near Nenagh, in memory of cousins John and Thomas O'Brien
Memorial at Knigh Cross, near Nenagh, in memory of cousins John and Thomas O’Brien

Maybe we can reflect on their sacrifice as we look at the actions and behaviour of our politicians today:  the official video released to accompany the announcement of the government’s 1916 commemoration plans was denounced by Diarmuid Ferriter, professor of history in UCD, as “embarrassing unhistorical shit” (the video featured images of the Queen, David Cameron, and Bob Geldof, but completely omitted to mention the signatories of the Proclamation or even the 1916 Rising itself).

Our history and culture are currently being steamrolled into the ground – It would be good to answer that, as with our Neolithic ancestors who built their huge stone tombs, “ we remember, we respect and we honour”

Memorial to brothers Patrick and Harry Loughnane at Moy O Hynes Woods, near Ardrahan
Memorial to brothers Patrick and Harry Loughnane at Moy O Hynes Woods, near Ardrahan

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