On the 100th anniversary of the Kilmichael Ambush, led by Tom Barry and his Flying Column, the local youth branch of Fianna Fáil has honoured his name.
George Gill, the branch’s secretary, confirmed last week that it had been renamed Cork South West Tom Barry Ógra Fianna Fáil.
The branch is currently welcoming new members between the ages of 16 and 30.
The name change was adopted in time for the 100th anniversary of the November 28th 1920 ambush – a date that Tom Barry and his Flying Column recorded their most famous victory over the British Auxiliaries.
George, who has been a member of Ógra Fianna Fáil since 2011, said the decision to name the unit after the Irish republican leader was unanimous.
The name change not only marks the centenary, it is also a nod to the 40th anniversary of Tom Barry’s death.
Interest in the youth branch of the party in Cork South West had fallen into decline from 2000 to 2015. But George, and a few more like-minded young people, got together and reformed Ógra, the Irish word for ‘young’.
The local unit now has 32 active members from all over the constituency from the tip of the Beara peninsula to Courtmacsherry.
Despite Covid-19 restrictions, the organisation continues to meet regularly. ‘We have adapted quite well to the new normal,’ said George, who said their meetings deal with local and national topics. ‘We focus on youth issues, such as youth unemployment, public transport, and educational matters.’
Ógra was also very vocal on the issues facing Leaving Certificate students, as well as the difficulties college students experienced during exam times.
Ógra is also involved in charity fundraising and members took part in the ‘50k in 15 days’, a walking and running challenge in aid of the Irish Cancer Society.
Although their annual charity table quiz was postponed, Ógra CSW assisted with other national fundraisers, such as Team Hope’s Christmas shoebox appeal.
This year, the shoebox appeal has gone online. Global partners will purchase gifts for the children who look forward each year to the brightly-wrapped gift boxes.
‘The unit is proud of the work it has achieved throughout the year,’ according to its chairperson, Ciara Sheehy from Baltimore.
Ciara attributed its recent increase in membership – from 22 to 32 – as ‘an indication of how active the organisation has become.’
Instead of hindering meetings, Ciara said Zoom has actually allowed them to meet more frequently, given that it is such a large constituency.
The Cork South West unit is well represented at senior party level, too. Diarmuid Collins from Glengarriff and George Gill from Caheragh both sit on the Fianna Fáil Ard Chomhairle, its national executive.
They are also pleased that the local Fianna Fáil TD, Christopher O’Sullivan, has been appointed as the parliamentary party’s liaison officer for Ógra members.