Here’s Their Memory - 20th Nov. 1948


Here's Their Memory: Text Version

Nov. 20, 1948


When Limerick fell in 1691 and Sarsfield led his soldiers overseas 'ag deanach a ghearain leis na righte', the victors struck a medal to commemorate the event. It bore the legend: 'Limericka capta, Hibernia subacta Octobris 1691(?Limerick taken and Ireland subdued, October 1691?). And so it seemed, indeed, for, to all appearances, the Irish nation was utterly and finally subdued. One hundred and seven years passed, long bitter years of agony and and despair, when the Penal night pressed heavily on a land on which the silence of lay; and then at the end of those 107 years, in the glorious summer of 1798, Ireland rose from the dust, and struck her oppressor with her chains.


'They rose in dark and evil days,

To right their native land;

They kindled here a living blaze,

That nothing shall withstand.'

Sirr and Swan, Lake and Cornwallis thought, when they drenched that living blaze with the of the men and women of '98, that they had extinguished it forever. But it never died. It flickered again, in 1803 and in the Famine year of '48; it warmed the heart of Ireland in '67; it burst into the mightly Easter Flame of 1916, and shone like a beacon fire through the battle-storm that followed.


Ninety Eight stirred Ireland to its soul. As time passed the events of that tragic year inspired the people to fresh and unceasing efforts to win their liberty. Wolfe Tone and Lord Edward, MacCracken and Russell, were recognized for what they were, champions of the down-trodden, gallant soldiers of freedom, who gave their lives for the cause they has espoused. The poets and ballad singers told of them in songs that were sung across the length and breadth of Ireland. Songs and ballads were made about other great figures since then, but no one hears them to-day. It is different with those that tell of '98; people still sing of Napper Tandy and John Kelly, of Boolavogue and the Men of the West and the Boys of Wexford. Remembered? Yes! Remembered for aye!


The lesser figures are remembered: Jemmy Hope, the Templepatrick weaver; the boy Lett, who led the Wexford men; Betsy Grey, the heroine of Down, who died with her brother and her sweetheart at the battle of Ballinahinch; and the heroic Molly Weston, of Fingal. In those places where they fought for the noble ideals of the United Irishmen they and hundreds more, are remembered with pride and affection in this year of memories. Half armed and untrained they threw themselves against the Yeos and the Hessians and the North-Corks; they endured the terrible pitch-cappings and half hangings, and all the cruel tortures their enemies could devise. They died secretly in jails, or publicly on the scaffold, for their less dream.' We of to-day know they did not die in vain.


As Pearse is regarded as the symbolic figure of 1916, so is Tone regarded as the symbolic figure of 1798. Protestant champion of Catholic right, lover of liberty and justice, gay, human and sincere, a man born to win and lead men, he was the heart and soul of the United Irishmen. 'Wolfe Tone', wrote the Duke of Wellington, 'was a most extraordinary man and his history is the most curious history of these times.' And so he was indeed. He landed in France, an almost unknown man; he got the great Napoleon to listen to him, and persuaded him to send three expeditions to Ireland. He fought his last fight on board a French warship in Lough Swilly. A short while later on October 19th 1798, exactly 150 years ago, Theobald Wolfe Tone died in Marshalsea Prison in Dublin.


As the year draws to its close the last tributes are being paid to the gallant men of '98. Church, State and people have joined in honouring them. Coinciding with the final celebrations comes the proclamation of a Republic in the liberated part of Ireland, surely the finest tribute to those who fought and fell for freedom 150 years ago.


What about my competitions? Time is running out for them. Closing date is December 11th. If you wish to enter for competition No. 1, tell me all you can learn about any old native Irish speakers who lived in Co. Limerick, when they lived, and where. Send me a list of Irish words and phrases still used in your district.


If you wish to enter for Competition No. 2, write an account of any part of the Maigue country you know well. (Take Maigue country to mean any place within 2 or 3 miles of the river.) You may tell of anything in your account; the district's folklore, legends, songs, history, flora, fauna, famous people, industries, sports, etc.

I have got some very good entries, but I want more and more. Please do not disappoint me. There are many valuable books waiting to be won.


Do you read that splendid little Irish newspaper 'Indiu' every week? It is the brightest and liveliest of Irish publications. Secondary school pupils may be interested to know that it offers 5 pounds each week for essays in Irish.


Another 'Rambling Thady' list will be published shortly. That may remind you of something.


This week's song of Limerick came from Maighread Bean Ui Bhrosnachain, Gleann Mor, Tuar na Fola (cailin a labhair an Ghaedhilg go ri-mhaith I gColaiste Ui Chomhraidhe I Mi Iuil, 1937). It is a Land League song.


One evening of late from Croom, I strayed,

Bound for Newcastle and I making my way,

At Ballingarry some time I delayed,

And I wet my whistle with porter,

I kindled my pipe and I spat on my stick,

And on the Bruff line like a deer I did trip,

I care for no baliff landlord or old Nick,

But I sang like a lark or a sporter,

I scarcely had travelled a mile of the road,

When I heard a dispute in a farmer's abode,

With the son of a landlord an ill-looking toad,

And the wife of a bold tenant farmer.

Saying 'what in the came over you all,

Not a penny of rent can we get for our call,

But after the Sessions you'll pay for it all,

Or I'll give you high road in the morning.'

'You rascal,' the bold tenant wife she replied,

'You are worse than your Daddy at the other side,

But our Plan of Campaign it will pull down your pride,

It is able to hear every storm.'

When she spoke of the Land League, his lips they got pale,

'All the rent you owe you pay it next gale,

'Or I give you high road in the morning.'

We all joined the Land League on last New Year's Day,

And I think in my heart we were not going astray,

Our clergy are with us, the pride of our isle,

Take care you won't stand on their corns.'

He shouted 'Hurrah' and she shouted too;

He showed her his back,and like old Nick he flew,

Saying 'God save the Land League and old Ireland too.'

Agus fagaimid siud mar ata se.


Feenagh Cumann Gaedhlach are holding a ceilidhe on next Sunday 21st November. Here's wishing them a good night's entertainment. Go n'eirighidh go geal leo.

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