The south Longford community of Derryhaun came together recently to mark the official opening of its Easter Rising memorial garden.
“We tried to keep it as local as we could. The school children opened with music and song, and the story of James Connolly,” said Michael Egan, Chairperson of the local Development Association. “Three soldiers were also there and a piper played a lament. The commandant then presented the flag to Mrs Egan, who is one of the oldest residents in the area, and she opened the garden.”
Despite the inclement weather a large crowd was present to witness the event.
“There was a great turnout; we didn't expect half the number because of the day that was in it. We got a marquee set up,” Mr Egan continued.
Outlining how the decision was made to create the garden, Mr Egan explained that the Development Association received a brochure containing designs for gardens with 1916 themes.
“The garden designs were dedicated to each of the signatories and we chose the Connolly design,” he explained. “We organised collections in the community and got a grant from Longford County Council. We also got donations from local businesses.
“The council had staggered the crossroads which left an area to be cared for. We started off cutting the grass and maintaining that area, and the idea came from that.
“It's a great achievement for such a small area,” Mr Egan said, adding that, “We hope to do well in the Tidy Towns competition this year.
“We're very grateful to all who contributed. I'd like to thank Jack O'Connor from SIPTU for coming down and speaking about James Connolly and Willie Penrose who was also there. I'd also like to thank the CE scheme workers and the local development committee, especially our secretary, Pauline Malone and Thomas Dennigan. Thanks also for the extra helpers who came to erect the marquee – it couldn't have rained any heavier when they were putting it up!”
Also involved in the project was Tony Moran, who co-ordinates the Community Employment Scheme in the area.
“The majority of work was done by three lads: Michael Malone, Kevin O'Hara, and Thomas Rodgers,” he said.
“The lads dug out and landscaped the garden, built walls, planted trees, put up the flag pole, and laid the stone with the Proclamation on it, which came from Kerry.
“It took them around 10 weeks to complete and sometimes they'd keep working until 9 o'clock at night. They deserve great credit for doing that amount of work in a short space of time, as do the Derryhaun Development Association.”