Minister to unveil Peter O’Neill-Crowley viewing station in Kilclooney


Minister to unveil Peter O’Neill-Crowley viewing station in Kilclooney

Easter Sunday, 31st March this year will be a very significant day, historically, in Sraharla-Kilclooney when the Fenian leader, Peter O’Neill-Crowley will be further remembered by the opening of a viewing platform.

Saturday, 23 March 2013
12:00 AM GMT

Sraharla-Kilclooney Commemoration

Easter Sunday 31 March @ 2:30pm

Le Nioclás Ó Duinnín


Minister for Trade & Enterprise, Mr Séan Sherlock TD

to unveil newly constructed Peter O’Neill-Crowley Viewing Station

in Kilclooney


Parade to commence at Ahaphuca, stopping to lay wreaths, in honour of  the six brave young Irish Volunteers who gave their lives for Ireland during the War of Independence (1919-21) at the Sraharla Monument and then continuing on to Kilclooney where Minister Sherlock will unveil the newly constructed Ardán Radhairce/Viewing Station in honour of the Fenian Peter O’Neill-Crowley


Easter Sunday 31st March this year is a very significant day, historically, in Sraharla-Kilclooney. The Fenian leader Peter O’Neill-Crowley was shot dead on Sunday 31st March 1867. This year, the 31st March falls on a Sunday and will not do so again until a number of years after the 150th anniversary of the Fenian Rising, in 2017.


The Molaige-Sraharla-Kilclooney Historical Group, in conjunction with Mick Walsh, monumental sculptor and fellow patriot, decided to seize the opportunity, in this year of ‘The Gathering’ to commemorate the occasion by constructing a Viewing Platform which provides a wonderful panoramic view of Kilclooney Wood and Peter O’Neill-Crowley’s monument, down in the valley by the river Abha na gCaorach, where the last action of the 1867 Fenian Rising, took place in Ireland.


The Historical Group wish to sincerely thank the owner of the land, Mr Jim Barry, for allowing the ‘Ardán Radhairce/Viewing Station’ to be built. The development would not have been possible without his consent. His patriotism and generosity will not be forgotten! Mr Barry, of course, comes from a very patriotic family. His own grandfather was involved in raising funds from the fine Celtic cross erected in 1898 to Peter O’Neill-Crowley down at the Abha na gCaorach river. Also the group would like to thank Mrs Breeda Moynihan, who resides opposite the Viewing Station, and her son Pat, for their willing support for the project from the beginning.


The parade will assemble at 2:30 pm, near Ahaphuca Cross, at Kitty Pyne’s, and walk the 1.5 miles to the O’Neill-Crowley Viewing Station. It will be lead by the youthful Thomas Kent Band, which has graced all our commemorations, since the foundation of the Molaige-Sraharla-Kilclooney Historical Group, in 2007. 


The first stop will be at ‘War of Independence’ monument at Sraharla where a decade of the rosary will be recited and wreaths will be laid in memory the six Irish Volunteers, named  on that monument, who sacrificed their young lives in the cause of Irish freedom. The average age of those who died was a mere 25 years. It behoves us all, in every generation, to remember their supreme sacrifice and to keep their memory alive into the future!








Those, whom we are remembering, and who died as a result of the Sraharla Ambush on 1st May 1921 were members of the Mid-Limerick Brigade; Captain Patrick Starr, Silver St., Nenagh; Lieutenant Tim Hennessy, Kilonan, Limerick and Captain James Horan, Caherconlish. Those three died, on the spot, that day at Sraharla, having become separated from the rest of the brigade. They delayed for a meal, at Maggie Ronan’s house, when a mixed RIC and military convoy arrived on the scene and caught them by surprise, causing them to flee the house in great haste.


Another Volunteer, poor Paddy Casey, Ballybricken, having run out of ammunition, was captured and brought to Victoria Barracks in Cork, where he was court-marshalled and shot at 6 am next morning. Several locals arrested in the round up that day, in Sraharla, were taken, as well, to Victoria Barracks by the military. They were told to look out a little window at Paddy’s execution, having been told that the same would happen to them the following morning! It was a mere bluff but psychological torture was a weapon much used, at the time, to frighten suspects in order to make them open up!


The two other names, on the Sraharla monument, are local volunteers, Willie Riordan, Cullane, Ballylanders and Séan O’Riordan, Thomastown, Kilfinane.  Willie Riordan is buried in the Republican Plot in Ballylanders, while Séan O’Riordan is buried in Darragh.


Willie Riordan, Cullane, was at Sraharla, the day of the ambush but managed to escape. Many of those that escaped that day (May 1st 1921) headed towards Lackelly, near Knocklong. However, the enemy forces were on their heels and next day, May 2nd, the enemy, under the infamous Capt. Tony Turton, based in Galbally, followed a local volunteer sympathiser, Mai Molloney, who unwittingly led him straight to the volunteers resting place at Lackelly.


Poor Willie Riordan, Cullane, was shot dead, as were three other volunteers, including Tom Howard of Glenbrohane. It was a disastrous two days for the volunteers. The British forces used dum dum bullets, which were, even then, illegal to use in warfare, as such bullets can remove a victim’s head (which they did in this case) on impact.


Capt. Séan O’Riordan, who is also named on the Sraharla monument, was shot during the ‘Cross of the Tree’ ambush in December 1920. Séan had served in WW1 and on his return after the war had joined the local volunteers.


While in the British Army he proved himself to be an outstanding sharpshooter. He sacrificed his own life during the ambush in order to save his own men. He held back over fifty British soldiers single-handedly with his sharp-shooting during the ambush. By doing so, he allowed sufficient time for his own men to escape through the fields. When eventually Séan himself began to retreat he was shot in the stomach. He managed to escape but died agonisingly, 36 hours later, from wound infection. He was buried secretly at night in Darragh Cemetery, in order to conceal from enemy forces his eventual fate. The old Fenian, Fr Robert Ambrose PP, Glenrue, organised his burial. 




Having paid our respect to the memory of the Sraharla martyrs, we continue our parade to the Viewing Station in memory of the Fenian, Peter O’Neill Crowley, who was shot by crown forces in 1867. The new ‘Viewing Station’ will be unveiled by Minister for Trade & Enterprise, Mr. Séan Sherlock TD, a native son of the area.  The Minister will also give the key note address. Politicians from all sides of the spectrum will attend this Fenian’s commemoration.


During the ceremony, a wreath will be laid at the new monument, sculpted by Mr Michael Walsh, followed by words from a number of invited guests. There will be music and song to go with the occasion from such outstanding local singers Linda Murphy and Irene Browne. Joining the celebration, amongst others, on the day will be members of the Crowley Clan who will also perform along with many others.


Peter O’Neill-Crowley was from Ballymacoda and it is only fitting that a contingent from there will also be present at the unveiling. Ballymacoda Councillor Michael Hegarty is organising that delegation. The Ballymacoda contingent will be under the banner of the Fr. O’Neill’s GAA club, led by the club’s chairman. Other representatives from Ballymacoda may also be represented.


To mark the occasion a commemorative book will be published. This book, by Nioclás Ó Duinnín, is a limited edition and is the group’s main source of fund raising. It will be available on the day and will sell for €20. It has 449 pages and covers a wide range of local history topics. The main focus is on providing information on the seven men (six at Sraharla & Peter O’Neill-Crowley) who died and are named on the Sraharla –Kilclooney monuments.


The book has 19 chapters each dealing different aspects of Sraharla and Kilclooney story and the people involved at the time. However, the book also has chapters on other interesting events that occurred in the area in the past. Next year, 2014, the whole country will be remembering Brian Boru and the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. Locally, we can share in a big part of that celebration, because of Brian Boru’s connection with Bearna Dearg/‘Red Chair’. Chapter 14 tells of how Brian, avenged his brother Mahon’s murder in 976 AD, at that location.


The story of ‘The Kilclooney Orator of 1869’ Fr William Fitzgerald, (1836-1899) of Kilfinane, is recounted. He was both a priest and a poet. He drew a crowd of over 30,000 to Kilclooney, in 1869, as he tried to rally support for a general amnesty for all Fenians languishing in jails throughout Ireland and England at the time.


 Fr Fitzgerald, however, was to pay a heavy price for his involvement in the rally and the wonderful oration that he made there. He was shortly after banished from Ireland, by church authorities, and was never to receive a parish of his own. He was seen as a radical and had to be silenced. He had to live out his life in exile, enclosed in a monastery in France.


Still, he never forgot his homeland and while there, he wrote some lovely poetry. His poem ‘The Rebel’s Lover’ is quoted in this book and it leaves the reader in no doubt about his love for his homeland. Fr. Wm Fitzgerald, lived through the Great Famine and knew what the Irish people had endured. He made no apology for his actions. He is another almost forgotten patriot from our local hinterland.


The Sraharla-Kilclooney area was always in the limelight. Chapter 14 is entitled ‘Death of a ‘White Knight’ in Kilclooney’. Here we learn, how a young White Knight, John Fitzgibbon, in the late fifteenth century, was ‘ran through’ with a sword and killed, by his ‘long suffering uncles’ in Kilclooney, as he was making his way from David Fitzgibbon’s Castle in Glenahoglisha, Ballylanders, back to the family tower house in Oldcastletown.


The White Knight John, who was very unstable mentally, probably deserved his fate, as he had denied his uncles a living on any part of their father’s vast estate, making them live off hunting and wild game. The account is based on a document referred to as ‘Unpublished Geraldine Documents’ compiled, sometime probably after 1660, from family records.


There is a great variety of historical pieces in the book.  You can read of the details of flogging of Peter O’Neill-Crowley’s grand-uncle, Fr. O’Neill in the ball-alley in Youghal. The account was written by Fr. O’Neill himself on his return from exile as a response to those who were trying to imply that he had supported violence, instead of being a victim of it, in 1798.


There is also an account of how a young 16 year old Mary Hanley served Peter O’Neill-Crowley his last meal on the morning of his death when he stayed in her parent’s safe house (now Pad Fox’s,) overlooking  Kilclooney Wood. This comes from an obituary written on the death of her son Patsy O’Donovan of Kilclooney, in 1949.


Other item in the book include, Dick Lyons from Glenrue who contributes an article on his father,  Séan Lyons, who was O/C of D Company of the Volunteers in Glenrue during ‘The Troubles’. Denis Bowman, Oldcastletown, tells of the White Knight’s henchman Diarmuid Allta and Mick Walsh contributes some of his poetic compositions on local issues and events.



Everyone is invited on Easter Sunday (31/3/2013) to pay their respect and show their support to the family descendants of the martyred men who will lay wreaths at the monuments. The seven men being remembered never counted the cost of their involvement in trying to free our country. They gave up everything including their young lives.


As an example of their sacrifice, Capt. Tim Hennessy was heir to a baronial residence and fine farm, in Kilonan, on the main Tipperary-Limerick Rd. His mother and sister Mary had the sad task of going in a pony and car to Knocklong Railway station to pick up his body and bring it home for burial when his corpse was eventually released by the military. Tim’s sister Mary, years later, in the 1950’s, told the story of that heart-breaking trip to Knocklong to her own daughter who wrote down the account. The military surgeon warned the family not to open the coffin. Such a euphemism was a way of letting the family know that poor Tim had been tortured. That story is published for the first time in this book.


We are all looking forward to seeing old friends and making many new ones on the day! T.O. Flynn, our Historical Group’s President, has told me that everybody is invited afterwards back to T.O. Park for refreshments, chat and maybe even more music. Our group meetings are held in T.O. Park and it’s the nerve centre of all our activities. So, even if the weather isn’t too kind on the day, everyone will have great comfort in the wonderful new ‘Barn’ that T.O. has turned into such a tremendous facility for the whole community. 


Bígí linn ar an Domhnach Cásca. Bíodh sé fliuch, tirim ná fuar, is cuma, mar d’fhualaing na laochanna a fuair bás, ar ár son, sa Sratharlach agus i gCill Cluana, in 1867 agus i 1921, anró, i bhfad níos measa ná droch-aimsir, i rith a saolta léanmhara gearra!

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