HUNDREDS of walkers retraced the footsteps of more than 350 Irish Volunteers through mid-Cork – exactly 100 years later.
They assembled from various parts, in Kilmurry, just as they had done a century earlier. The arrival of hundreds of armed men in the small village in 1916 was part of the largest mobilisation of the Cork Brigade of the Irish Volunteers – a key event in the Easter Rising outside Dublin.
Just as his father did then, Tom Hales Jnr led those who had walked from the Bandon area into Kilmurry village, where actors in the roles of brigade commanders Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney arrived in a vintage car to deliver orders to ‘stand down’.
A plaque was unveiled by Noel Howard, chairman of Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Association (KHAA) – which organised the event in collaboration with Cumann Seanchais na Banndan (Bandon Historical Society).
The plaque names the areas around Cork from which 14 Volunteers companies travelled on foot, on bicycle and by train to Kilmurry, where they were joined by the local company on their march to Macroom, all under the command of Cork City Battalion commandant, Sean O’Sullivan.
Those areas were Dungourney and Cobh in east Cork; four Cork city companies; Tracton and Ballinhassig in south Cork, and West Cork companies from Ballinadee, Bandon, Clogagh, Gurteen and Tinker’s Cross, Kilbrittain and Kilpatrick.
The Proclamation was read by Der Kelleher, whose grandfather Michael Galvin was quartermaster of the Kilmurry company of the Irish Volunteers/IRA when he was killed during the Lissarda ambush on August 22nd in 1920. The National Flag was raised by a colour party from F Company, 12th Infantry Battalion, assisted by Connie Long, whose father Denis J Long commanded the Kilmurry Volunteers on the march to Macroom on Easter Sunday, 1916.
The plaque was blessed by local clergy, Catholic parish priest Bernard Donovan, and Church of Ireland curate Rev Anne Skuse of St Andrew’s Church in Kilmurry.
KHAA also provided previews of its new Independence Museum Kilmurry, due to open soon, where stories of the Easter Rising, War of Independence and Civil War are told through artefacts and images related to people and events of the local community. Saturday’s event was attended by Cathal MacSwiney Brugha, whose mother Máire MacSwiney Brugha officially opened the Terence MacSwiney Memorial Museum in Kilmurry in 1965. It was named after her father, the mid-Cork TD and Lord Mayor of Cork city who died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison during the War of Independence in October 1920.
As well as items relating to the local involvement in the Irish Revolution, Independence Museum Kilmurry will include many items from the KHAA collections relating to Terence MacSwiney. They include many of his own books and personal documents, and a wheel from the hearse which bore his coffin.
The Civil War ambush at Béal na Bláth in which General Michael Collins was killed in August 1922 took place in Kilmurry parish, and many items relating to that period of the revolutionary era will also feature in the exhibition. Also on display will be artefacts related to the November 1920 ambush in the neighbouring parish of Kilmichael, led by IRA West Cork Brigade Flying Column commander Tom Barry. They include the burned wheel of one of the Crossley Tender trucks which carried the 17 Auxiliary police killed in the ambush, and a chassis plate from one of the trucks.
The new facility also includes community meeting space, and was built with support of the Leader programme and local fundraising. KHAA is being assisted by West Cork firm Heritage Works with the fit-out and establishment of its museum.