Sunday’s Irish Volunteer commemoration at The Crown Hotel in the heart of Castleisland proved an outstanding success for the handful of organisers. It was particularly satisfying for Joe Browne, Eamonn and John Breen as they had put so much work and effort into the event over the past couple of months. The weather conditions were close enough to perfect as the rain that threatened at the starting time of 5pm held off and the evening improved. Though there was a cloud hanging over us after our Croke Park experience earlier. There was a short bus tour to Dysart on the Killarney Road and to the Republican plot at Kilbannivane.
Back onto Main Street and the historic balcony on ‘The Crown’ was occupied by a gifted and youthful traditional music group of : Aisling O’Connell, Niamh McSweeney, Dean Griffin, Steven O’Leary, Seán Kelliher, Cian O’Sullivan and Thomas Barrett. At ground level, the crowd was entertained by the talented Rachel O’Connor from Currow who delivered a beautiful version of Grace – the song mostly associated with the late balladeer, Jim McCann.
Éamonn Breen then put the significance of the day in context with a speech to the swelling crowd as we all reenacted the scenes at the same venue as in April 1914 and celebrated the dedication of the Irish Volunteers of Easter 1916.
Kate Shanahan was asked to lay a wreath outside The Crown in honour of the volunteers and Tommy O’Connor raised the Tri-colour on the balcony. The group played Amhrán na bhFiann and Billy Browne was asked to unveil the stone plaque on the wall of The Crown.
After the unveiling the crowd drifted into the bar and packed the function room for the lecture by Martin Moore. This proved to be another highly successful aspect of the day and a very informative discussion and question and answer session sprang from it.
Éamonn Breen’s Speech
Is ócáid stairiúil í so an 24ú lá Aibreán 2016 mar díreach ar an lá seo céad bliain ó shin, Luan Cásca 1916 thosnaigh Éirí amach na Cásca i mBaile Átha Cliath agus ar an lá céanna
sa cheantar seo tháinig céad óglach le chéile sa Díseart, míle siar ó Oileán Chiarraí, bhíodar ann ó Oileán Chiarraí, Chúl, Scairteach an Ghleanna, Na Cuirríní agus Na Foidhrí.
Resistance to English Rule
There was always resistance to English rule in the Castleisland area from the Desmond Rebellion of 1579-1583 when Gearóid Iarla was beheaded on November 2nd 1583. This was followed by the Plantation of Munster as land ownership was taken from the people and they had to pay rents for their own lands.
In 1798 the local United Irishmen attacked the barracks in Castleisland. The names of Boic Ó Gráda and Tadgh Bocht Fial Ó Dálaigh are immortalised in the song An Spailpín Fánach.
We had Whiteboys, Ribbonmen, Rockites, The Fenians and the IRB. Castleisland again came to prominence in the Land War when the Moonlighters took on landlordism and the establishment.
John Twiss Hanged
John Twiss, the Cordal Moonlighter, was hanged an innocent man in Cork jail in February 9th 1895 and Poff and Barrett were also hung innocent men.
This plaque here is to remind us of the hardship and of the many sacrifices made in the cause of freedom. We remember with appreciation and gratitude not only the men who made the supreme sacrifice but also those who spent long years in jail.
We remember the Cumann na mBan organisation, those who had to flee the country and those who provided safe houses and supported the cause in any way.