- 92B2541B0187574322DEBA0287204ED2

 Talk on Anne Devlin

Micheal O Doibhilín, Kilmainham Tales' MD, presented his illustrated talk on Anne Devlin - "The Pawn and the Castle" - in Clondalkin on Monday November 24.

Before a capacity audience, and using the latest graphic techniques to illustrate his talk, Micheal put Anne Devlin's life into its tru historical context.  The talk focused on Anne's contact with Dublin Castle, in particular Town Major Sirr, Hanlon the Gaoler, and, of course, Dr. Edward Trevor.

This was a tale of incredible bravery against all that the forces of the Crown could muster. It is a tale which, were it about a man, we would marvel at. But this is about a woman, who - for 48 years - defied the mightiest empire in the world at the time.

Micheal is the author of "Anne Devlin - the bravest of the Brave". See here for further details of the book, or find out more about Micheal himself here.

This year’s Anne Devlin Commemoration was a great success with people travelling from, for example, Belfast and Tyrone to attend. We were especially happy to greet our friends from the Anne Devlin Society Belfast who hired a coach for the day to travel down. (I had given a talk on Anne at their inaugural meeting in April of this year).

There were many new faces at this year’s commemoration and it is good to see that word is getting out about this forgotten Irish hero. Indeed, several people/organisations put up notices on their websites/facebook pages, for which we are very grateful. Mile buiochais, a cairde uilig.

man who is very conscious of the local history and promotes it on every occasion – and many took up his offer. This gave those who had travelled some distance a pleasant opportunity to relax before heading for Glasnevin Graveyard.

Several other friends were awaiting us there, including those from Tyrone who had travelled by train and could not arrive in time for the mass. 

At 2.30 we all gathered around Anne’s grave and I made a short speech about her before placing a wreath of fresh pretty flowers on the grave. This wreath was chosen over the more conventional but bland type because we felt Anne’s grave needed a warm and friendly touch. 

The day started out with 12 noon mass in St. Catherine’s Church, Meath Street. This church had a special meaning for Anne – it was where she got married, and where her children were baptised. 

Fr. Niall said the mass, and I gave a short eulogy after the Communion which was received with a warm round of applause from the large congregation. After mass we had a chance to gather and talk for a while in the warm sunshine. Several local people shared stories and memories of their own parents or grandparents who had fought in the struggle for Ireland’s freedom with me, and expressed their gratitude and pleasure that a local hero was being remembered.

We went to the other St. Catherine’s Church in Thomas Street then, to visit the site of Robert Emmet’s execution on September 20, 1803, and where Anne Devlin was brought in a carriage from Kilmainham Gaol the following (under heavy armed guard, much to her amusement) and was forced to look at the pigs rutting around in Robert’s blood which still stained the roadway.

Declan McKernan, of Arthur’s Pub beside St. Catherine’s, was among the large attendance at the mass and afterwards invited everyone back to Arthur’s for tea or coffee – a lovely and generous act. by a

Others put flowers on the grave too, so for a few days at least, it will show that Anne is not forgotten.

Then we all repaired to the Cemetery restaurant and spent some time there mingling and chatting. On the way we caught the end of the presentation of Patrick (NOT Padraig as Glasnevin insists on calling him) Pearse’s speech at the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa. Our congratulation to the actor, whom we have heard and seen perform this before – he is excellent and infuses his rendition with genuine passion.

Over the next couple of hours people wandered off to view various graves in the graveyard and, eventually, we ourselves departed about 5.00 pm.

Once again, our thanks to all who attended, and we hope that all arrived home safely. We hope to see them all again next year, le Cunamh De.

Below are photographs taken by Kevin Devlin. Click on each to enlarge. For other photos, go to James Langton’s facebook page here

On Friday September 20th, 1803, Robert Emmet was hanged and beheaded by Executioner Thomas Galvin in Thomas Street, in front of St. Catherine’s Church, before a crowd of up to 45,000 people.

Each year the Emmet and Devlin Association (of which our MD Micheal O Doibhilin is a founding member) remembers this tragic event and places a wreath in commemoration at the foot of the commemorative plinth which stands there today.

Philip Emmet, descendant of Robert  Emmet’s brother Thomas (who was exiled to the United States) placed the wreath, as he has done on many previous occasions. Master of Ceremonies was Aidan O’Hara, and the day was organised by Frank Connolly – both founder members of the Association.

A large crowd turned up to remember Robert, and Aidan briefly outlined the events of that day 211 years ago before Philip Emmet laid the wreath and a minute's silence was observed in memory of a brave young man. 

After the wreath-laying we all repaired to St. Catherine’s Church for a talk by Cllr. Mary Hanafin, who delivered the keynote address at this commemoration.

In her talk, Cllr. Hanafin urged Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan T.D. ‘not to consign History to history’, and to protect history as a core subject in the new Junior Cycle syllabus.

"The memory of our forefathers – including James Connolly, James Larkin and others important to the Labour Party – can be kept alive in the minds of the next generation by protecting History as a subject. The choice rests with the Minister for Education" Cllr Hanafin said.

Speaking on the topic History – a thing of the Past?’ she urged Minister O’Sullivan not to be bound by the mistake of her predecessor, Ruairí Quinn, who proposed removing History as a core subject at Junior Cycle level.

"History gives students a sense of identity, develops citizenship, shows the relationship between current and past events, and fosters an appreciation of diverse traditions and cultures" Cllr Hanafin said.

The new proposals for Junior Cycle envisage only three compulsory subjects - Irish, English and Maths. Cllr Hanafin said the inclusion of History in this list “would give students the skills of critical thinking, analysis, and the ability to distinguish fact from fiction, and truth from prejudice.

In the future, are Robert Emmet and Anne Devlin to be simply street names? Will Michael Collins be solely a film character, or did Game of Thrones really happen?" she asked.

"If 12-year-old students are faced with a choice of subjects, the pressure will be to select a language for university entry, science for employment opportunities, technology for the digital economy, and business for

entrepreneurship. History will suffer, and so will our understanding of ourselves and the world we live in" Cllr Hanafin added.

She claimed that the option of taking history as a short course would lead to a lack of context or international setting, asking “How, for example, can the 1916 Rising be understood without referring to World War l or the Home Rule Bill?”

Without a knowledge of history, we cannot fully appreciate literature from Yeats to McCann.  In an increasingly globalised world, our history is part of what distinguishes us from others. Many of the problems in Israel, Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere are rooted in the past, but without a sufficient knowledge of history, our understanding for today and tomorrow is limited.

Every education system in Europe, with the exception of England and Albania, requires students to take history until the age of 15. The removal of compulsory history in England led to a class and gender divide in those who chose it, and they are currently trying to reverse the decision. Minister O’Sullivan could learn from their mistake. We constantly bemoan the lack of study of women in history. Minister O’Sullivan can make her own mark on history by making it a core subject and giving it the status it deserves" Cllr Hanafin concluded.

Cllr. Hanafin’s remarks were applauded by all present, and the support for them was obvious in the questions and discussion that followed.

All then repaired to nearby Arthur’s Pub on the invitation of landlord  Declan McKiernan for light refreshments, where the discussion continued in an informal and very welcoming setting for some time. We are grateful to Declan for his support of the local community and our Anne Devlin and Robert Emmet commemorations.

Apart from our wreath, a separate bunch of flowers was placed  anonymously. This is done each year and, to date, we have failed to find out who does it, but lovely to know someone else remembers brave Robert too.

A single red rose was placed in memory of James Byrne by his descendant Derek. James was hanged in Townsend Street the day before Robert and was one of many men executed in the aftermath of Emmet’s rebellion, most of whom are forgotten today but remembered by us.

It is a little known fact that some seventeen (yes 17!) men in total were hanged in the aftermath of Emmet's failed rebellion. Some years ago the Dublin History Workshop placed a plaque on the wall of St. Catherine’s in Thomas Street to commemorate these men. Here, for the record, are their names: 

Carpenters: Edward Kearney, John Killeen, Thomas Keenan, John Hayes, Michael Kelly, Henry Howley, John McIntosh
Tailors: Owen KirwanJohn Begg
Factory workers: Thomas Donnelly, Nicholas Tyrrell; 
Slater: Maxwell Roach;
Coal Factor: Denis Lambert Redmond;
Shoemaker: John McCann;
Farm labourer: Felix Rourke;
Baker: James Byrne.

(We are grateful to Jerry O’Reilly for the additional information on these men’s professions).  

- 92B2541B0187574322DEBA0287204ED2