A Fitting Celebration Of Roger Casement In Tralee

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Brian Caball writes about the Roger Casement Gathering which took place in Tralee at the weekend….

Tionól Mhic Easmainn 2015, or the Roger Casement Gathering, was held in Tralee and was hosted at Fels Point Hotel on Friday and Saturday last, 4th/5th September.

The official opening was by our own Celine Slattery who told us of her father’s conversations with Roger Casement in India and of his personal thoughts on a great man whom he greatly respected.

Continued below…

Roger Casement 1

In attendance at Tionól Mhic Easmainn ’15 were (chun tosaigh ó chlé): Seán Ó Luanaigh (Cill Airne), Dawn Uí Chonchubhair (Trá Lí), Pádraig Mac Fhearghusa (Trá Lí), Dáithí Ó hÉigeartaigh (Trá Lí). Ar cúl (ó chlé): Tiománaí Uí Chuív (Cill Mhantáin), Pádraig Ó Snodaigh (Ceatharlach), Mayor Tom McEllistrim, Dr Aoife Ní Chonchubhair, Dr Fiona Mhic Choitir (Cill Airne), Éamon Ó Cuív (Gaillimh), Seán Seosamh Ó Conchubhair (Trá Lí).

An tOllamh Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, NUIG, gave an enthralling lecture on the life and times of Roger Casement….on how he was treated for his treason and on how his name was blackened.

‘Commemorations’, stated Ó Tuathaigh, ‘are not merely about the past but about the future and about the handing on of values to the next generation.’

Éamon Ó Cuív, mac iníne Éamoinn de Valera, spoke of his family experiences in relation to Casement’s times….of how his grandfather held Eoin Mac Néill in the greatest respect and, when ‘sportingly’ challenged by one of his grandsons as to why he had taken part in a Rising that had been cancelled by Mac Néill, had answered, without critizing his commander, that ‘we were an army; my boss was McDonagh and he ordered me out!’

Ó Cuív spoke of his grandfather’s great respect for Casement. as well as the love and respect shown to him by the ordinary people.

Dr Tim Horgan, whose grandmother was secretary to Ernie O’Malley and to Liam Lynch, gave a detailed account on Kerrymen who died in 1916.

He told of how ‘The O’Rahilly’ drove to Limerick on Easter Sunday to call off the Rising and how, on Easter Monday, he was shot while leading a group of men from the GPO and up Moore Street.

A plaque on a wall in that street ‘gives’ his last letter to his wife! Interesting details of of Kerrymen who died in The Troubles may be read in Dr Horgan’s book, ‘Dying for the Cause’ (Mercier Press).

Did you know that a Jewish man was the first to be shot in the Rising or that two Lithuanians lost their lives in Ireland’s cause? He also referred to the importance of our history ballads in handing on a knowledge of our history.

Pádraig Ó Snodaigh, a leading historian on the 1916 period and a former uachtarán of Conradh na Gaeilge, read a selection of Roger Casement’s poetry and told that it was Casement’s wish to be buried in his ancestral home near Morlough Bay, County Antrim.

Will Roger Casement’s wish be granted in, say, 1916? He talked of Eoin Mac Néill’s indecision…..bhí sé idir dhá chomhairle….on the question of cancelling or ordering the Rising!

Pádraig also mentioned the idea of Roger coming to Ireland to have the Rising called off and at that very same time 20,000 rifles were off the Kerry coast!

The last speaker was marine radio operator Brian O’Daly and he gave an account of the fruitless efforts to carry a radio from Cahersiveen to Tralee.

The unfortunate result of the attempt was the drowning of Keating (Cahersiveen), Monaghan (Belfast) and McInerney (Limerick) in the River Laune at Ballykissane Pier on Good Friday ’16.

The final event of the Tionól was the retracing of Casement’s last steps as a free man from the Banna Strand Monument to Lios Mhic Easmainn, Ard Fhearta. Local historian Seán Seosamh Ó Conchubhair, led the walking group on a beautiful ‘summer’ day. A number of local people took part in the day’s proceedings and some spoke about their feelings on the Casement ‘tragedy’.

We trust that the Casement Gathering of 2016 will be as successful and as enjoyable. Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís!

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