By John J Hassett
“Soloheadbeg is a place of major significance; it is the site where the War of Independence began 93 years ago, when the writ of the British Empire was challenges by patriotic young men who were fearless soldiers of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Irish Volunteer Army for the first time since 1916. It occurred on the same day January 21st 1919 as the first Dail Eireann met in the Mansion House Dublin. Both happenings changed the history of Ireland dramatically and when we reflect on the progression of happenings especially Power Sharing in the North East of our country I believe I will see in my lifetime a united nation once again.” Mr Jack Roche said in the course of a most eloquent and much applauded oration.
On a dry brisk January day a large crowd assembled at Coffey’s forge for the parade to the ambush site, with the Sean Treacy Moycarkey Borris Pipe Band leading the way as they played as only they can so well, the music of Ireland. Senator Mark Daly from Kerry and Independent TD Mattie McGrath South Tipp were among the Members of the Oireachtas I met as we waited for the parade to start. The six Munster counties as well as Dublin, Laoise and Kilkenny were well represented in the gathering of the Gaels. Mrs Josephine Carroll daughter of the late Pat McCormack, one of the men of Soloheadbeg, recited the Prayers for all involved at Soloheadbeg, including those who fell on the wrong side of Irish history there. Margaret O Dwyer of Donohill and Paddy O Dwyer of Tipp, members of the Irish Bardic Federation, individually paid their tribute in song to the men of Soloheadbeg who led the way for the rest of Ireland to follow which they did.
Jack Roche in a powerful address went on to deplore the almost total lack of any knowledge of modern Irish and local history from 1916 to now students have been deprived of due to the disastrous policies of successive Ministers of Education of the last 30 years. Mr Roche said. “A censorship with taboo labels attached is in place to anything relating to Irish nationalism and political reunification of the Island of Ireland. He went on,“It is people with pride in their native place and country like the men of Soloheadbeg had 93 years ago that will restore our sovereignty national economic and fiscal. It is us the people - not government or the Civil Service or Dail Eireann - that will restore pride in our country pride in its produce and pride in its status as an independent sovereign nation once again