A public forum will be held in the Ivy Leaf Art Centre on this Friday night 4/04/14 at 8.30 p.m. to mark the centenary of the occasion of the formation of the Irish Volunteers in Castleisland on the fifth of April 1914. A vivid account of events is contained in the book published by The Kerryman: ‘Kerry’s Fighting Story,’ and the following extract is taken from it:
“A branch of the Irish Volunteers was inaugurated in Castleisland on Sunday, the fifth of April, 1914, following a huge public meeting which was addressed from the balcony of The Crown Hotel. Amongst those on the platform were; – M. P. McElligott, W. H.O’Connor, R.D.C., T. T. O’Connor, Land Leaguer; John Geaney and Jeremiah Kelliher. Kelliher who was eighty-two years of age at the time, walked about seven miles to be present at the meeting – which was also attended by: T. Wren, R .Finn. T.D Reidy, Denis J. Reidy, Thomas Costelloe, M. Keane, L. Curtin, R.J.Walsh, R.E.Shanahan, C.J.Brown, H. Knight and Jeremiah Laide. W. H. O’Connor and M.P. McElligott presided, and M. P. McElligott was appointed Secretary to the Volunteers; Denis J. Reidy was instructed to make arrangements for drill. The meeting was addressed by Diarmuid Crean, Chairman of the County Board, and by James McDonnell, John Collins and J.M. Collins of the Tralee Volunteer Committee.
Great activity followed the inaugural meeting, and drilling, parades and lectures took place weekly. The corps, which was strongly represented at the Killarney Oireachtas in 1914, continued to make progress without set-back of any kind until the Redmondite ‘split’ in October, 1914. On Sunday the eight of November, a huge meeting in support of the Irish Volunteers and Eoin Mac Neill took place in the town. There was unbounded enthusiasm as close on a thousand Volunteers, many of them armed, marched to the meeting place. The Castleisland Corps was augmented by contingents from Cordal and Scartaglin, and by a detachment from Tralee accompanied by the Strand Street Fife and Drum Band which led the parade. A police note-taker from Dublin Castle, who was protected by a sergeant and some constables of the Royal Irish Constabulary, attended and reported the proceedings. These were marked by a considerable show of police activity and obviously intended to frighten the people. The proposition of Dan O’Mahony, Commander of the Castleisland Volunteers was seconded by Brian O’Connor, R.D.C.,
W. H. O’Connor was appointed Chairman and D. J. Griffin, Secretary. The gathering was addressed by W. H. O’ Connor, Castleisland; B. O’Connor, R.D.C., Scartaglin ; T. T. O’Connor ; Desmond Fitzgerald representative of the Provisional Committee ; M. J O’Connor, Tom Slattery and Austin Stack of Tralee.
The speakers were given a tremendous reception and the proceedings were accompanied by great enthusiasm. It was probably the largest and most stirring meeting ever held in the town, which reverberated to the cheers of thousands of The Kingdom’s sons and daughters. During the stormy days of the land agitation Castleisland proved its mettle by its fight for down-trodden tenantry and against cruel and tyrannical landlordism. Sons of the men who had made history in the eighties wrote an equally stirring page on that November day; they would not have been true to their forefathers if they had failed Ireland in her hour of difficulty.”