Kilteevan opens ‘Gairdín Grace’ as part of Decade of Centenaries Programme

The people of Kilteevan recently opened a memorial garden in memory of Grace Gifford Plunkett as part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme which has been running across the country since 2012 and is due to end in 2023.

On Thursday, April 15th, the committee along with five special guests held an event in the grounds of the centre to commemorate Irish Independence.

Kilteevan Tidy Towns planted seven white roses in memory of the seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation: Thomas J Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, P. H. Pearse, Éamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett. The flowers were planted around the rose trees to represent all who participated in the struggle for independence. The colour white was chosen to represent peace, harmony and admiration.

The roses were also planted beneath a pink cherry blossom tree, according to Eileen Fahey, “to represent what were once, the forgotten women of Ireland’s struggle for independence”.

Eileen added that “thanks to historians and researchers we now know the vital role women played in the struggle for Irish freedom and we want this tree to represent those women”.

Ray Clabby, Kilteevan Tidy Towns, was thanked for his expertise in designing the garden. The group hopes to place a replica of the Irish Proclamation engraved on granite in the garden in the near future.

In order to leave a more lasting legacy, local stonemason Mark Feely was commissioned to craft a commemorative plaque. Mark set the plaque in place after sunset on Easter Saturday so that the sun would rise on it on Easter Sunday.

 At the official unveiling of the plaque, Pat Devaney sang ‘Grace’, the song which tells the story of Grace Gifford who married Joseph Plunkett on May 3rd 1916 in Kilmainham Gaol, hours before he was executed by firing squad for his role in the Easter Rising of 1916.

Noel Maguire, who served for 43 years in the Irish Defence Forces, officially unveiled the plaque.

Tom Brady danced to mark the celebration of Ireland’s Independence while Tommy Murray read the Proclamation. Tommy’s father Jim Murray and his uncle Tom Murray were members of The Kilteevan Company; 3rd Battalion of Volunteers.

Laura Croghan, a former recipient of the Dermot Early Youth Initiative, now pursuing further education, sang Amhrán Na bhFiann.

Closing the ceremony, Eileen Fahey explained that the Kilteevan committee have decided to call their garden ‘Gairdín Grace’ in memory of Grace Gifford Plunkett.