THE family of a West Cork man who was centrally involved in Easter 1916 in Cork have welcomed the decision of Cork City Council to honour him with the unveiling of a monument in the city commemorating their involvement in the fight for Irish freedom.
The family of Sean Murphy, a native of Kilmichael and senior figure in the Cork City Battalion of the Irish Volunteers under Tomas Mac Curtain, were present last week to see outgoing Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Chris O’Leary, unveil the symbolic piece of sculpture in the city.
Historian Gerry White told the 100 strong gathering that it was important to remember the members of the Cork Brigade of the Irish Volunteers, who mobilised under Mac Curtain only to fall victim to the confusion described by Terence MacSwiney as ‘order, counter-order and disorder’.
Mac Curtain stood his men down on foot of Eoin MacNeill’s countermanding order only to learn the Easter Rising had gone ahead in Dublin and over the next week, he and his men were involved in a tense stand-off with the British forces as they occupied the Cork Volunteer Hall on Sheares St.
‘Sadly some members of the Cork Brigade who paraded at Easter 1916 would lose their lives in the War of Independence and included in that number were Tomas MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney, both of whom were holding the office of Lord Mayor of Cork when they died,’ he said.
‘Personnel who took part in the Easter Rising and the War of Independence were awarded medals by the government for the part they played in establishing the state we live in today but members of the Cork Brigade who paraded on Easter Sunday 1916 never received any official recognition.’
A leading figure in the Cork Brigade was vice-commandant Sean Murphy of the Cork City Battalion who campaigned for years for such recognition and it was his family who donated the specially commissioned piece of sculpture to Cork City Council to commemorate the Cork volunteers of 1916.
Mr Murphy’s sons, Paudie and Tadhg, said they were delighted that their father and his comrades were now officially recognised with the piece of sculpture which is located at the eastern end of the South Mall overlooking the south channel of River Lee at Parnell Bridge.
‘They were always ignored but now at last they are being recognised and now the people can see who was out in 1916 in Cork,’ said Paudie Murphy as he and his brother watched the Lord Mayor Cllr Chris O’Leary unveil the while marble jesmonite sculpture set on a block of limestone.
Sean Murphy’s grandson, John McCarthy, said the family were very pleased with the commemorative piece by sculptor Mick Wilkins from Crosshaven, which they were donating to Cork City Council to remember the 163 members of the Cork City Battalion and 24 members of Fianna Eireann involved in 1916 in Cork.
‘We gave Mick an idea of what we wanted and he came up with this representation of two Easter Lilies and the two channels of the River Lee – we wanted to give something back to Cork and it carries a plaque with the names of all the 1916 Cork Volunteers so we are very happy with it.’