07 Oct 2022

Plaque unveiled to Sir Henry Wilson in north Longford

Sir Henry Wilson

Local dignitaries and guests at last Sunday's plaque unveiling

One of the events that began Heritage Week locally was the unveiling of a plaque to Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson in Currygrane, Ballinalee, on Sunday.

The event took place at the home of Noel and Patricia Brady, which was part of the property attached to Currygrane House.
The plaque was supported by Longford County Council, through its Decade of Centenaries Programme.

Distinguished Longford author Belinda McKeon, niece of Noel and Patricia, introduced the speakers, who included the Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council, Cllr Turlough McGovern, and the Cathaoirleach of Granard Municipal District, Cllr Colin Dalton.

The unveiling was performed by Ronan McGreevy, Irish Times journalist and author of the recently published book on Wilson’s assassination, entitled, ‘Great Hatred: The Assassination of Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson MP’.

Henry Wilson had a long career in the British Army. He was Chief of the Imperial General Staff (the head of the British Army) from 1918 to 1922.

On his retirement from that position, he became MP for North Down.

He was assassinated in London on June 22, 1922 by two IRA Volunteers, Reginald Dunne and Joseph O’Sullivan.
Currygrane House was burned on August 16, 1922, days after the executions of Dunne and O’Sullivan.

Mr McGreevy said, “This plaque does not mean approval of Wilson’s imperialist world view or support for his policies on Ireland. Very few people in this part of Ireland admired or supported Henry Wilson’s take on Irish affairs.

“It is for the visitor to take meaning from it. You don’t have to approve of the actions of a historical figure to recognise their importance and in his lifetime Henry Wilson was a very important figure.

“As director of military operations at the beginning of the First World War he prepared the British Expeditionary Force for deployment in the war. By the end of the war he had become the chief of the imperial general staff, the head of the British army and the chief military adviser to the British government.

“His role included the joint strategy which eventually led to an Allied victory in the first World War. When he was shot dead on June 22, 1922 his death made the front pages of newspapers all over the world.

“His funeral was one of the biggest London has ever seen and you can see the footage on YouTube.

“He has some claim to be the most famous person who ever came out of this county, but he has been mostly forgotten about especially in Britain. Any interviews I have done about my book are usually prefaced with why don’t I know this story.”

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