"The 1798 Rebellion was one of right against might and yet significantly it united all our people in "a common cause against an oppressive regime."
This was stated by Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú, Director General of Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann, in his oration at the 1798 commemoration ceremony organised by Comoradh Chluain Meala in Clonmel on Saturday night.
Senator Ó Murchú said that he had just travelled from Co. Clare where he had delivered another oration at a 1798 commemoration in Clooney graveyard. There, he said, we remembered in particular one Denis O'Duffy who had travelled all the way from Clare, across the Knockmealdown Mountains to fight at Vinegar Hill in Co. Wexford. When he set out on that fateful journey, this farmer from Clare obviously knew that he was turning his back on security and personal opportunity to participate In an in equal struggle on behalf of Ireland and the unfettered control of her destiny.
The 1798 men who moblised at Slievenamon, Golden and Tubberadora would also have been keenly aware that they could forfeit their very lives - not for any personal gain but hopefully for the ultimate common good. This selfless heroism was a measure of their bravery, dedication and vision. They sought to abolish the memory of past dissentions and substitute the common name of Irishmen in place of the denomination of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.
“It is significant,” Senator Ó Murchú said, “that the local communities in Clooney and Clonmel and so many others throughout the 32 Counties should publicly remember the illustrious men and women of 1798 two hundred years after that eventful rising which, though ending in what some might perceive as failure, provided the continuity which linked subsequent risings and has an echo in the Good Friday Agreement.”
“We are now commemorating '98 in the momentous atmosphere of Ireland on the threshold of working in unity where all the traditions on this island will acquiesce in the common name of ‘Irish people’. Through the All-Ireland bodies which are to be established, our nation will have the historic opportunity, and challenge, of guiding our whole country towards the realisation of its full potential and this without outside interference.”
Senator Ó Murchú praised all those who organised the commemoration in Clonmel. It is, he said, a sign of our maturity as a nation that we would recall the valant deeds of our ancestors and mark our appreciation of their sacrifices on our behalf. The greatest monument that we can erect to their memory is to undertake the completion of their task with determination, humanity and in a spirit of reconciliation. Our shared cultural heritage which is older and more patent than our more modern political divisions can be a cohesive influence on that road.
“Ireland,” Senator Ó Murchú concluded, “enjoys a revered status throughout the world. We did not colonise any other country. We sent peace-keepers, missionaries, legislators, medical and other assistance to the four corners of the earth and the gratitude of those countries is our legacy to this day.”