Taoiseach Enda Kenny will be the star guest next month as preparations get underway to mark the fortieth anniversary of the death of General Sean MacEoin.
Mr Kenny’s appearance on June 16 is expected to coincide with a weekend-long series of events to honour the iconic War of Independence figure and politician.
First revealed by this newspaper in its 60 page guide to this year’s Gathering initiative last week, Mr Kenny will officially unveil a statue in recognition of the late General, but also to the near 40 other members that became known as the North Longford Flying Column.
Starting on June 13, a string of other events are also believed to be in the pipeline which organisers hope will entice large crowds to the Co Longford village.
“We are going to hold an exhibition in the local hall on the Friday and Saturday of that weekend with old memorabilia and items linked to MacEoin and the North Longford Flying Column going on display,” said the event’s main organiser and local Cllr, Micheal Carrigy.
Before that, pupils from national schools in Ballinalee, Bunlahy and Killoe are expected to showcase a series of projects to members of the public, highlighting different aspects of MacEoin’s life, including his progression from soldier and IRA leader to that of a leading politician and later statesman.
And according to Cllr Carrigy, the occasion promises to be one of the region’s key events to mark the 2013 Gathering campaign.
“I think it is fitting that the Taoiseach is coming to Ballinalee for this. He (MacEoin) was a biblical figure in Irish politics and ran for president twice. He was the man who seconded the Treaty and is a huge figure from our history,” said Cllr Carrigy.
“It’s a part of history too that I feel is not promoted enough in our schools or curriculum and this will give people the chance to learn more about this period as well as seeing old and original memorabilia in the flesh.”