The Pride of Finglas remember Brig. Dick McKee and the 95th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

The Pride of Finglas – We had a fantastic day in Finglas today at the Finglas Remembers Dick McKee Event. I was so proud to see all the different groups and individuals come together to remember a local hero but also to show our community in such a positive light. We have one great asset in Finglas….its people and long may they come together for events live this.

There are so many people to thank and I fear I will leave someone out but here goes the story of the day.

Joe Lynch​ had been out early hanging bunting and when I arrived the place looked great. Sean Mooney​ who was first there at 11am and last to leave, handled much of the logistics for the day, he was aided by fellow FVR (Finglas Village Renewal) member Paul Keegan

Stewards Anto Byrne​ and his son arrived on hand to test the flag pole and set up the cordon. Angela Treacy​ opened up Masseys Funeral Home to let us use the power and Carmine Salveta had allowed us test it in advance. Keith Connolly​ arrived to set up the music for the day, he handled it with a quiet ease that was fantastic.

While all this was going on the Tidy Town ladies were setting up the teas in the church…without anyone noticing, their efforts looked amazing when we arrived after the ceremony.

More and more people started to arrive at that point. The Colour Party; Donnacha Maguire​, Carl Batten​ and Racheal Bourke ​with flags and fedoras looking smart. Colonel Des Bergin arrived and we sent him to Carmines for a coffee, Dessie Ellis looked after him while we waited. The dignitaries arrived and the band music began. A recording of the Defence forces playing marching music. T-minus 15 minutes according to the schedule and the crowd began to build. We handed out the little booklets, Gerry Salveta​ and Toddy Griffin fine tuned their guitar and the Catholic and Church of Ireland clergy arranged them selves in order.

1 pm arrived. Conor Dolan from the Finglas Concert band gave a drum roll and I called the crowd to attention. A lamaent from Seamus Ennis, the famous finglas piper was played – An Raibh Tu Ag An Gcarrig. In Irish and English, I called for the National flag, situated across the street to be lowered to half-mast. Michael Yeates from FVR did the honours, Then Gerry and Toddy began the wonderful ‘Only a river runs free’ by Mickey McConnell. There was a hushed silence in the crowd as each note rang across the cobbles on a beautiful clear November day.

Into the silence that followed stepped John Sheridan​ who gave the details of the life of Dick McKee and recounted the irony that the foundation stone of St Canice’s Church was laid on the same day that Mckee, Clancy and Clune had been shot. Tony Smullen​ of the Finglas Historical Society followed to tell the story of the memorial and the men who erected it in 1951. The committee members were listed to remember their efforts.

The crowd then heard a blessing by Rev. Pádraig O’Cochláin and Rev David Oxley, both St Canice’s Churches of different religions praying together.

The formality upped a gear as I called for a moment of silence for Brigadier Dick McKee from Finglas and those who died with him on Bloody Sunday, Vice Brigadier Peader Clancy and Volunteer Conor Clune and all those who died for Irish freedom. The long silence broken after sixty seconds by the notes of the Last Post played by John Connolly of the Finglas Concert Band.

During the moments silence, I thought of Paul Callery​ who could not be with us because his mam had sadly passed away. He was one of the inspirations for the event and was greatly missed.

This was followed by the laying of wreaths first by Colonel Bergin on behalf of Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Irish Defence Forces and then by the Honorary Lord Mayor of Finglas Linda Emmet​ on behalf of the People of Finglas including her immediate predecessor Fintan Walsh​

The Organising Groups followed; Maria McKenna for the Finglas Historical Society, Philomena Byrne Murphy for the The Finglas Tidy Towns, Sean Mooney for the The Finglas Village Renewal. The Finglas Concert and Marching Band represented by Brendan Clarke also The Dublin Brigade of Irish Volunteers.

The politicians were next Deputy Dessie Ellis flanked by Cllr Cathleen Carney Boud​ and Cllr Noeleen Reilly​ represented Sinn Fein. Then Deputy Roisin Shortall on behalf of the Social Democrats laid a suitably purple floral tribute. On behalf of the Independent Group Cllr Teresa Keegan presented her wreath. Finally I joined Cllr David Costello​ to lay a wreath of behalf of the Fianna Fail Group.

Nearing an end, I called for the National Flag to be raised to full mast by Joe Lynch and Marie Duffy​ and the sombre mood lifted as the Reveille played followed by the National Anthem. I have to admit the hair stood on the back of my neck as the flag rose. Pride for Ireland, pride for Finglas.

Like elves in the night, the Finglas Village Renewal lads packed up the vans and the cars while we chatted to some of the crowd and other politicians. There was a consensus that the cross community spirit had worked well. We shuffled across the road for a much needed cup of warm tea.

To anyone who I have forgotten I apologise, let me know and I’ll amend. The biggest thank you goes to the crowd who attended. We should also thank stewards Saus O Donnell, Bernie Lynch, Noel Whelan, & Brian O Ciarain. Marie Duffy’s sister and her niece also helped with the teas.

The event was all recorded by An Lar TV and Photos by Laurence Duffy.

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