The Roscommon Association in Dublin organised a commemoration in Glasnevin Cemetery recently to honour three county natives who played an important role in Ireland’s fight for freedom.
The occasion marked the start of a week of events in Dun Laoghaire to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the execution of Patrick Moran of Crossna, Boyle, for his part in the events of Bloody Sunday in 1920. Also remembered at the Glasnevin ceremonies were the Fenian leader Ned Duffy of Ballaghaderreen and Loughglynn who died in prison in 1868, and republican priest Fr. Michael O’Flanagan of Cloonfower, Castlerea.
Coming from Roscommon and the greater Dublin region, more than 100 people crowded into the cemetery chapel for Mass, which was celebrated by Fr. Eamon Devlin, CM, who ministers in Phibsboro parish. Assisting at the Mass were Roscommon Association Committee members Cormac Gordon, June Murphy, Sean Farrell and Brigid Kavanagh. The joint Life Presidents and founders of the Roscommon Association in 1952 were represented by Michael Fitzmaurice while 99 year-old Rita Dorr sent her greetings.
Following the Mass, the Association Chairperson Mike Lennon introduced the speakers who paid short tributes to those being honoured. In his contribution, the newly-elected Roscommon-South Leitrim TD, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, drew on the similarities and differences between himself and his relative, Fr. Michael O’Flanagan. He described it as an example of “history coming back to sting itself in the posterior”. He remarked that Fr. O’Flanagan was noted for reciting the prayer that marked the opening of the first Dáil in 1919 while he himself as an agnostic was the first Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council to refuse to say it. As a present-day advocate for the freedom to cut turf on raised bogs, Ming recalled that Fr. O’Flanagan took up the cudgels against the Congested Districts Board on behalf of the turf-cutters of Cliffoney, Co. Sligo in 1915. He admitted using Fr. O’Flanagan’s words, “We have been quiet for too long and we have been lied to for too long”, as inspiration during the recent election.
May Moran, author of ‘Executed for Ireland – The Patrick Moran Story’, thanked the Roscommon Association for arranging the commemoration, and for the many times it had honoured her uncle going back to 1962 when the Association sponsored the restoration of his cell in Kilmainham Jail. Noting that Paddy Moran and Fr. Michael O’Flanagan were good friends who shared the same ideals, May said that Fr. Michael was one of the last visitors to see her uncle before his execution, which he faced “with complete resignation and fortitude”.
As the organisers were unable to trace any relatives of Ned Duffy, it fell to Seamus Scally to pay tribute to his fellow Loughglynn man. He did so by reading a poem written by Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in his Millbank Prison cell on hearing of the death of Ned Duffy, his fellow political prisoner. It includes the following verse:
‘If spirits once released from earth could visit earth again,
You’d come and see me here, Ned; but for you we look in vain.
In the dead-house you are lying, and I’d wake you if I could,
But they’ll wake you in Loughglynn, Ned, in that cottage by the wood.’
The first wreath was laid at the grave of Ned Duffy by Loughglynn natives Seamus Scally and Cormac Gordon after which Mary Durr recited a decade of the Rosary. The next stop was the grave of Fr. Michael O’Flanagan where his cousin Mike Flanagan of Cloonfower laid the wreath with Gabriel Durr. Reflecting Fr. O’Flanagan’s deep love and interest in the Irish language, Brigid Kavanagh led the recitation of a decade of the Rosary in Irish. The last wreath was laid on the final resting place of Patrick Moran in the plot where the Mountjoy Jail ‘forgotten ten’ were re-interred in 2001. The wreath was jointly laid by his niece and nephew, Sister Angela Moran who ministers in Trinidad and Paddy Moran of Crossna, along with Michael Fitzmaurice while Attracta Fitzmaurice led the prayers.