History Seminar Eirí Amach na Cásca -Is Cuimhin Linn and 1916 Commemorative Day Balbriggan – May 1916

“Balbriggan & District Historical Society held it’s Commemorative Seminar Éirí amach na Cásca Is Cuimhin Linn on Saturday 7th May. The day opened with a welcome from President of the society Tony McNamara and then was launched by Mayor of Fingal Cllr David O’Connor, a long term supporter of our society, who praised the varied programme and reminded us that he would be back in Balbriggan for the unveiling of the Sinéad Ní Fhlannagáin De Valera plaque on Sunday.

We then enjoyed 5 brilliant talks both on the local and national experience in 1916. Bairbre Curtis  spoke about The 1916 Rising in Fingal, The Fingal Brigade and the employment and military situation in Balbriggan at the time which would have discouraged people from getting involved, at least publicly. Liz D’Arcy took us through the painstaking skilled process in conserving an original copy of the Proclamation.  The results of her work on the Proclamation donated by the family of Elizabeth O’Farrell to Dublin City Archives is on display in City Hall at present.  Jimmy Wren, Author of The GPO Garrison Easter Week 1916, told the story of many of these men in his talk , including Mayo born Charles McMahon who  served in the GPO aged 11, was shot in the head in 1921 during the war of Independence, then went on to win an All Ireland Hurling Medal with Dublin in 1938.

The afternoon began with excellent speaker Sean Collins on the topic of The Easter Rising in Louth and Meath, and the Francis Ledwidge poem about it which he wrote while serving with the British Army in WW1. As with everywhere else  difficulties in communication and confusion over countermanding orders played a huge part in the story. The last talk was d Sinéad Ní Fhlannagáin( BeanDeValera), daughter of Balbriggan and 1916 by Micheál MacMathúna. Micheál has done comprehensive research on her life, her devotion to the Irish Language, and her writings but in this talk he concentrated on what her life was like in the 1916 period,  when her husband was fighting or in jail or in America, which he was for much of the time. Three of her children were sent to live with their aunt in Balbriggan for a year from 1916 to 1917. A brilliant day concluded with the reading of the Proclamation from local students Ruth Guildea and Daniel ODriscoll. The enthusiastic audience enjoyed the excellent talks on both the local and national experience in 1916, and left with lots of new information and an appetite to learn more about this facinating period in our history.

A busy weekend continued with 1916 Commemorative Mass, Procession and unveiling of the Plaque to Sinéad Ní Fhlannagáin deValera in Quay Street on Sunday.  Committee members of the Historical Society  Jim Walsh, Anne Collins, Bernie Kelly and May McKeon were delighted to be part of the Balbriggan Liaison Commemorative Committee along with Cllrs Malachy Quinn and Gráinne Maguire,  involved with planning this and other events during the week. We would like to thank Micheál MacMathúna for his assistance with the wording of the Plaque and Patrick Hickey for  it’s design.  May performed the duty of MC on the day, Gráinne Maguire read the Proclamation, and speakers included Mayor of Fingal Cllr David O’Connor, Mícheál MacMahúna, and Éamon Ó Cuív TD, grandson of Sinéad.  The Plaque was unveiled by Nora Ní Chuív granddaughter. It was  a great day thanks to Fr Eugene, St. Patrick’s Brass and Reed Band, Fingal Old IRA, local Scouts and girl guides and brigíns and most importantly the people of Balbriggan. It was  a memorable and important day for Balbriggan and it was great to see so many of the DeValera and Flanagan family members there who were delighted to share with us their personal memories of Balbriggan. The event was attended by a large enthusiastic crowd and the Plaque will be a lasting physical reminder of the occasion.