DÚCHAS Clonakilty Heritage advises that people need to book by email by this Friday evening at [email protected] if they wish to attend the Mary Jane Irwin Centenary Remembrance evening next Wednesday next, August 17th. Mary Jane Irwin was a native of Clonakilty, a poetess, Fenian and Republican campaigner from the time she married fellow-local Fenian patriot, Jeremiah O’ Donovan Rossa. As well as that, she was a devoted mother of 13 of her own children with Rossa, and also took on his older ones whom he had with his previous two wives when she married him at just 19 years of age in 1864.
When he died at the end of June 1916, Mary Jane and Rossa had been married over 52 years. Even though she was in good health herself and was 14 years younger than her late husband, Mary Jane died suddenly in New York just over 13 months after Rossa himself and was buried in New York.
On Wednesday, August 17th, exactly 100 years after her passing, she will be remembered at ‘Strand House,’ Sand Quay, Clonakilty – the Irwin family home. An informal reception will be hosted by Sinéad O’Crowley (An Súgán), who owns the Strand House, at 8.30pm, which is optional to attend.
Official proceedings will commence at 9pm sharp with a floral tribute being laid at the entrance to the house by the Mayor of Clonakilty, Anthony McDermott, followed by an historical account of Mary Jane’s life portrayed in drama and narration inside the house. Michael O’Mahony of Dúchas will give an account of the main aspects of Mary Jane’s life, and this will be interspersed with award-wining actress Nora Scannell (who played Mary Jane in last years sell out play ‘Rossa’), reading poetry and passages written by her. The evening will conclude with appropriate songs sung by Deirdre Archbold.
For the necessary pre-booking, priority will be given to current paid up members of Dúchas Clonakilty Heritage, followed by friends of the organisation and the general public. In the event of not being able to facilitate everyone who emails, the format of the evening will be repeated again at a later date for a wider audience.