Sinn Fein member Sean Conlon, who spent part of his childhood in Delaware County, graciously shared with irishphiladelphia.com the remarks he made at the grave of Luke Dillon at the Easter Rising Ceremony at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon.
It is an honour for me to be here, on the occasion of the centenary year of the 1916 Easter Rising and stand with true friends of Ireland, and advocates for her liberation, to commemorate the contribution and sacrifices of Ireland’s patriot men and women associated with the Rising, and in all campaigns of resistance waged against the foreign occupation of our homeland. Today here at Holy Cross Cemetery, we invoke in particular, the memory of those who resided in the Philadelphia region, and that despite the distance of separation and communication, remained firm in dauntless spirit, and action, in supporting the efforts of their comrades in Ireland.
Since our last assembling here twelve months ago, we reflect on loved ones who have would regularly have attended events such as this commemoration or other opportunities to raise the flag for Ireland and her total independence. As a fellow activist who I recall in years when I lived in this area is the name of Tommy Flynn, along with the name of Sean Rocks, who as a member of the Breen family, is also especially missed today.
The annual Easter Rising ceremony at Holy Cross Cemetery on April 3 took on special poignancy this year, which marks the 100th anniversary of the Dublin battle between Irish revolutionaries and British soldiers that played a pivotal role in the birth of the Irish Republic in 1922.
Members of the families of three prominent Irish freedom fighters who are buried in the Yeadon cemetery took part in the ceremonies, which included rifle salutes by the Pennslvania 69th Irish Volunteers re-enactors, speeches by Sinn Fein’s Sean Conlon, the Monaghan town councillor who spent part of his childhood in Delaware County; Judyann Gillespie McCarthy of the local 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration Committee, and Tyrone native and historian, Patsy Kelly.
Jim Reardon of Havertown was there because of Christmas 1976, the day he returned to his Dublin home after visiting friends to learn that it wasn’t because of a card game—“we were a great house for cards,” he says—that the house was teeming with people in the middle of the night. Reardon’s father had been found dead. Laid off after 50 years at the same job, he committed suicide.
Siobhan Towey Regan of Glenside was there was there for her cousin, a young man in his 20s, who also killed himself.
Joan Freeman of Dublin was there because of her sister, Catherine. A 54-year-old mother of four, she too died by her own hand.
You have two ways to celebrate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising this weekend and another mid-week.
On Saturday, Cherish the Ladies will be at the Annenberg Center in Philadelphia playing tunes that celebrate this major event in Irish history. At least two local performers will be joining them onstage: Gabriel Donohue and Marian Makins, who produced a special song honoring one of the women of the revolution, Countess Constance Markievicz, which has been getting air time both in the US and Ireland.
On Sunday, the annual Easter Rising commemoration takes place at Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon at the graves of Joseph McGarrity, considered the financier of the rising, and Luke Dillon, who was part of a bombing campaign in England and Canada. This ceremony will be followed by an event at Oaks Ballroom in Glenolden with music by The Spirit of 16 and food and drink.
In some ways, we’ve entered a post-St. Patrick’s Day lull. In other ways, with the commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, we’re heading into another period of celebration, with multiple events. You can read more about them here.
As for the rest of this week, a reminder that we’re up to our keisters in traditional Irish music sessions. You can get details on many of them on our calendar. With the exception of the sessions conspicuously not on our calendar. (Hey, you guys: free advertising! Get off your keisters and post them!) BTW, “keister” is ancient Irish Gaelic. It means “buns.” (OK, now we’re totally making this up.)
Here’s what else to look for this week—and, by the way, the second one is a biggie for you Celtic Thunder fans. Of which there are literally herds.
Arriving to a water cannon salute from the Northern Ireland Fire Service, the Philadelphia Police & Fire Pipes & Drums band is on the ground in Ireland, and getting set for the thrill of a lifetime.
Philly Police and Fire is the only foreign band invited to take part in one of the official commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising, to be held Easter Monday in Ashbourne, County Meath.
Thirty members of the band, all cops and firefighters, are making the trip, said Philly paramedic Mark O’Donnell, the band master, music director and pipe major, in an interview Thursday, just a few hours before the band’s departure out of Newark.
Imagine, said Villanova History Professor Craig Bailey, PhD, that in 1776, the Revolutionary army under the command of General George Washington had lost to the British and “all our founding fathers were captured and executed.”
Although Bailey was preaching to the converted and well-versed this week at Villanova University’s Falvey Library—many in the audience were members of the region’s 1916 Easter Rising commemoration group—it was an apt way of putting the 1916 Irish rebellion into a perspective the average American could understand. It was the lost battle that eventually led to Ireland’s independence,
The Proclamation read on the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin by teacher and revolutionary Padraig Pearse, addressed to “Irish men and Irish women,” owes at least some of its sentiment to Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence prose aimed at freeing American men and American women from the yoke of British colonialism.
That’s right: 290.
There were three of us down along the parade route on Sunday: Denise Foley, Gwyneth MacArthur and me. Between the three of us, we had the parade well and truly covered, from the first blast of the air horn to the final pints.
I could yammer on. I’ve been known to do that. I had an editor who said I couldn’t clear my throat in less than 2,000 words.
Better, though, to let the pictures tell the story. That’s what you want, anyway, right?
So here are three huge photo essays for your happy perusal.