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Anne Devlin Annual Commemoration 2020 
Normally, on the Sunday nearest the anniversary of Anne Devlin's death (18 September 1851) we would have held a graveside commemoration in her honour. This year, unfortunately, this was not possible.

Instead, Both Liz Gillis (Secretary) and Mícheál Ó Doibhilín (Chairperson) of Cuimhní Anne Devlin together with an Honour Guard of the Irish Volunteers Dublin Brigade, held a smaller, limited commoration., and Mícheál delivered the graveside oration, in which he said:
"As we stand here today, we must first give thank the members of the Irish Volunteers Dublin Brigade, for honouring Anne, even in these strange and harsh times. We are grateful to Glasnevin Cemetery for once again granting permission for this limited ceremony.

Today we honour Anne Devlin, a woman who, more than any figure in our history, would understand what we are going through in Ireland today.

Anne stood by and supported Robert Emmet as he tried to change Ireland to a better, inclusive society. But even after Emmet’s death, she continued to support his ideas and ideals, and protect his backers and supporters.
Anne spent almost three years in solitary confinement in Kilmainham Gaol, where she contracted a horrible, contagious disease, erysipelas.

So contagious that – even after her release – she would be shunned by many.

So contagious that to merely to touch a sufferer, it could be transmitted to you.
So dangerous that there was – and still is – no known cure.

So potentially fatal that one in three sufferers could die.

All of this could easily find an echo in today’s Covid-19-ridden world, and our trials would easily be understood by Anne.

But she would understand even more of our trials when we consider what happened after her release from prison, for Anne came out into a world very much changed from the one she had left.
Anne’s new world was to be a world of isolation, a world where people avoided her as if she did not exist, where no friend would greet her but pass quickly to the other side of the street to avoid her.
They did this because, everywhere she went, a policeman followed right behind, to identify those who greeted her, for 45 years, right up to the day of her death.

Only within her own family could she find some comfort, some companionship, some relief from the exclusion without.

But even in her own home she was not safe, for death was ever a threat. Her parents died not long after her release from prison. Her husband was to die in 1846, as the famine began to spread its tentacles into Dublin. Her first-born son William was a weak and sickly child who could offer no support, her daughter Mary Anne seems to have become a drug addict and died in an asylum in New York without Anne being able to visit.

Eventually, Anne was to die alone, with no one to comfort her, no one to hold her.

Her funeral was rushed, no-one to attend, buried in a grave no-one identified as hers.
So yes, of all our heroes from the past, Anne would indeed understand more than most what we are going through now, as we face isolation, social distancing, fear of illness and fear of lonely death, and be best able to give us the gift we prize above all.

Because she would have this understanding of what we are today enduring, Anne’s gift to us would be those properties she had herself demonstrated – strength in adversity, resilience, refusal to be cowed by what is happening, and lastly, hope for the future.

And I, for one, thank her for that".

Following this, flowers were laid on the grave by:
Liz Gillis on behalf of Cuimhní Anne Devlin,
James Langton on behalf of the Irish Volunteers Dublin Brigade and
Mícheál Ó Doibhilín.

Below we show some photos from the ceremony.
Special illustrated talk on Anne Devlin
On Friday September 18th Mícheál Ó Doibhilín gave a talk on Anne Devlin - "The Pawn and the Castle" - on the  online history programme Trasna na Tíre. The large audience enjoyed the presentation thoroughly, and there was a lively Q&A afterwards. The talk waas recorded, and will shortly be on their archive and can be viewed here when published: 
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