Passion can move mountains. It did so in 1916 and has done so again in Caherlistrane, Co. Galway, one hundred years later where an entire community pulled the tattered cloak of history around itself and concocted an audacious plan.
A plan that would turn that tattered cloak back into a rich flowing cape. The parish would, suggested honorary long-time mayor, Brendan Gannon, build a magnificent statue in this centenary year. His 'brainchild' envisaged a glorious miniature stone feature, a sculpture really, of Dublin's GPO, that iconic building whose very name summons up images of rubble-and- dust- covered bloodied and bandaged men. And how well we know their names. Pearse of the earnest side profile, MacDermott with the dancing eyes, Plunkett, the wan looking dreamer, and Connolly, glaring and moustached. The distant looking Ceannt, MacDonagh with his high poet's forehead, and the elderly Clarke, the one who put the fire in all of their bellies. They would all be remembered in Caherlistrane this year along with the men of the Volunteers and the women of Cumann na mBan who were driven up the steps of the bigger GPO a century ago, fuelled by burning idealism.
GPO Monument © Kevin McNicholas
And so along with the encouragement of the parish and the enthusiastic backing of the Community Council, with financial and other support from many quarters including Galway County Council, and under the baton of Community chairperson, Billy Connelly, a dream was born.
On 11th September that dream turns into a reality when the wondrous Monument, designed by Bernard Geraghty, sculpted by Declan Jennings and built by the Rural Social Scheme on Tom McCabe's land, will be unveiled at Donaghpatrick, in tandem with the launch of a beautifully designed Souvenir Book, devised by Anna McHugh. The public location of the structure will serve as an inspiration to all. It features the Proclamation in a prominent position, is flanked by flagpoles, and a permanent light will burn at its plinth, lest we forget.
A graveyard mass, celebrated by Fr. Pat O Brien PP, will take place in Donaghpatrick at 5pm, setting the scene for the formal unveiling, where guests will include Councillor Michael Connolly, Chairperson of Galway County Council; Eamon O Cuiv TD, grandson of Eamon de Valera; Sean Canney TD and Minister for OPW and Flood Relief; historian John Cunningham; Mark Killilea, former TD & MEP; members of the Defence Forces, and many descendants of the people connected. Afterwards the celebrations will continue in the community centre where music will be provided by Matt Keane and Joe Forde, singer of 'The Soldiers of Cumann na mBan'. "Many many people put tremendous time and effort into getting this built", said an impassioned Billy Connelly, "and the community should be very proud of it. It really is a most beautiful monument. There's nothing like it in Ireland so let us not be afraid to celebrate this remarkable cooperative community achievement."
Further information: Billy Connelly, Chairperson, Caherlistrane /Kilcoona Community Council - 087 90 75856
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