Former Taoiseach Albert Reynolds is to be commemorated in north Longford next week.
The late TD and minister will have a tree planted in his memory at Leebeen Park, Aughnacliffe on April 19 next. A park bench will also be installed close to the Oak tree - a Quercum Robur - and proceedings on the day will be officially carried out by Mr Reynolds’ son Philip.
Speaking to the Leader, local Fianna Fáil stalwart Benny Reid said the whole community had joined the effort to commemorate the late Taoiseach after locals watched a video of his visit to the area on March 14, 1992 just days after his appointment.
“I had an old film that was taken by the late John Joe Martin in 1992 when Albert came to Aughnacliffe after being appointed Taoiseach,” said Mr Reid, adding the film was shown in the local pub in the days after Mr Reynolds’ Funeral last September and there was great interest expressed by those who saw it.
“When Albert was appointed Taoiseach, it became a non party event; people were delighted and proud of the fact that a local man achieved such political status, and on that day in March 1992, there was a very large gathering in the area to see him.”
That day, RTE was on strike and there was little media interest in the arrival of the new Taoiseach, so Mr Reynolds took the opportunity to speak off the cuff.
“On that day, he made two statements; he said he had only two main objectives and they were to stop the carnage in Northern Ireland and to get a better deal from the EEC on cohesion funding,” Mr Reid stated.
He delivered on both.
“We had the joint declaration in the North in 1993 and as Albert left office, £8.5 billion in cohesion money was given to Ireland. He delivered on what he said he would deliver on, and I have always admired that about him.”
Meanwhile, preparations are taking place in Aughnacliffe this week for the big commemoration on Sunday.
The five foot bench will have a little plaque with the simple words ‘Albert Reynolds TD, Taoiseach 1932-2014’, while the inscription on the tree will read ‘Commemorating Albert Reynolds TD, Taoiseach and the joint Anglo-Irish peace declaration’.
PJ Mulligan, Benny Reid and Dan Mulligan together with the chairman, Gearoid Mulligan and members of the Leebeen Park committee in Aughnacliffe - all of whom were under the direction of Vinny Hawkins - are behind the event which is bound to generate plenty of nostalgia in North Longford this weekend.