by Tom Ryan
The Director General of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann and former Fianna Fail Senator, Labhrás Ó Murchú, has stated that “the men and women of Irish history who gave selfless service in pursuit of our independence and sovereignty have earned the affection and admiration of the Irish nation”.
He stated, “This has not diminished with the years and was evident last year during the impressive and inspirational commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising. There was an outpouring of pride and fervour.” Mr Ó Murchú was speaking to a huge attendance at the annual commemoration at Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary, where the Irish War of Independence began on the day the first Dáil met on 21 January, 1919.
The attendance included relatives of the participants in the historic event, including Mrs Kathleen Alliss Cleary of Thurles, a first cousin (once removed) of Sean Treacy. Mr Ó Murchú stated, “The greatest tribute we can pay our patriots is to emulate their selflessness and ensure that all our citizens have equal opportunities to pursue their dreams and to have a fair and just share in the resources of the state.
Very often it takes great courage to make the peace and work towards reconciling competing aspirations and ideals. This was so well flagged in the 1916 Proclamation and in Terence McSwiney’s “Principles of Freedom.” Those patriots saw beyond the conflict towards the making of the new Ireland. A powerful prescription for progressing the ideals of our patriots is to work towards promoting that which unites, rather than engaging in divisive rhetoric. All who occupy this island deserve no less and one can see the great sea change that has taken place in relations between the different traditions in the Six Counties. It behoves all to ensure that this exceptional progress is not undermined in the future.Where there is a will and respect, anything is possible.
When Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann was held for the first time in its 60 year history, the City of Derry – which had a turbulent past – welcomed it with open arms. 430,000 people – of all traditions – embraced and enjoyed, as one people, our cultural heritage. So significant was this experience that Comhaltas received the European Citizen of the Year Award. Sean Treacy’s violin played. The violin belonging to War of Independence hero, Sean Treacy, was played by English musician, Finbarr English, at the Soloheadbeg commemoration. The violin had been presented to the Brú Boru Cultural Centre in Cashel, by Sean Treacy’s first cousin once removed, Mrs Kathleen Allis Cleary of Thurles. Finbarr English is a prominent member of Comhaltas. The award-winning Sean Treacy Pipe Band from Moycarkey/ Borris was also present at the event organised by the Third Tipperary Brigade Old IRA Commemoration Committee, of which local historian, Mr John J Hassett, is a prominent member.