Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, Helga Keogh, David Feelan, Gene Anderson, Gerry Gilroy and John Cronogue at the Seán Connolly and Tom Kelleher commemoration in Clonbroney Pictures: Shelley Corcoran
On Easter Sunday 1971, a large crowd congregated in Clonbroney Cemetery to see Joe Clarke, a veteran of the 1916 Rising, unveil a monument to two of Longford’s greatest republicans, Seán Connolly and Tom Kelleher.
Fifty-one years later, on Sunday week last, the biggest crowd to assemble at that republican plot since then gathered to remember those two men.
In glorious sunshine, hundreds of people from Longford and surrounding counties, and as far away as Meath and Sligo, assembled behind the Kiltubrid Pipe Band and marched to the cemetery.
The band was followed by a colour party with appropriate flags and banners. Wreaths were laid by relatives of the two republican heroes.
The oration was delivered by Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, Sinn Féin TD for Donegal.
In his speech, he spoke of the contribution of the two men, Seán Connolly and Tom Kelleher, who were both killed by British forces in 1921.
Speaking about the Ireland of today, he stated that “Our goals as Irish Republicans remain; an end to partition, an end to the union with Britain, the construction of a new national democracy - a New Ireland - and the reconciliation of our people.”
Deputy Mac Lochlainn added, “We have never been closer than we are now, to achieving those goals.”
The 1916 Proclamation was read by Barbara Jacoby and the Longford Roll-of-Honour of republican dead was read by John Rooney.
A poem in memory of Tom Kelleher was read by Tena Keown, Cathaoirleach of Longford Westmeath Sinn Féin Comhairle Ceantair.
Thanks were expressed to Longford Sinn Féin, and in particular to Gerry Farrell, for organising such a successful commemoration in memory of the two Longford IRA men who died on active service 101 years ago.
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