Oration by Cllr Frank O’Flynn in Kilcrumper Cemetery

The following is the full text of the oration given by Cllr Frank O’Flynn at the Republican plot in Kilcrumper Cemetery, Fermoy on Easter Sunday:       

‘Is mor an onoir dom, beith anseo libh, san ait stairiuil seo inniu, cun omas a thabhairt loacra 1916.

I am greatly honoured to have been invited by my Cumann to deliver the oration here at the republican plot in Kilcrumper where Liam Lynch and Michael Fitzgerald and comrades rest on the 102nd anniversary celebration of the 1916 rising.

The men and women who risked everything for us 102 years ago set a noble and progressive vision. The last in a long series of national uprisings, the 1916 rising was that in which the Irish Nation sought to throw off the chains of cruel colonialism.

On Easter Monday, April 24th 1916 a small number of Irish patriots gave a challenge in arms to British rule in Ireland, to assert their country’s right to Liberty and to proclaim her an independent republic.

When one speaks of 1916, one cannot tell the full story without due regard to the Rebel County. Names such as Thomas Kent, Seán Hurley, Diarmuid Lynch, Tom Hunter, Gearóid O’Sullivan, Michael Collins, Tom Barry, Tomás MacCurtain and Terence Mcswiney to name but a few are synonymous with Cork and synonymous with the formative years of the Irish Nation. In the County of Cork, close to 50 Volunteer Companies, comprising over 1000 people, mobilized on Easter Sunday 1916, gathering at such locations as Bweeng, Barley Hill, Carriganimma and Kealkil, only later to find out that the Rising had been called off. Or so they thought.

The decision to proceed with the Easter Rising in Dublin was made by only five men on the eve of Easter Sunday, a group including a prominent Corkman, Diarmuid Lynch from Tracton. The vast majority of people in Cork however only found out about the Rising in Dublin after it had begun. Notwithstanding this, Cork’s men and women were very much at the ready to put their shoulder to the wheel for the good of Ireland and they certainly did just that with particular regard to the War of Independence and Civil War.

In 1916, Ireland was to many a country worth dying for and we are survived by the memories and aspirations of those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. In 2016 in the County of Cork we commemorated them with over 500 events, organised by over 200 community groups. This commitment was recognised recently at the LAMA/IPB All Ireland Council and Community Awards by winning best Community Based Initiative in Ireland.

In that, we led the way for a long list of other countries in the course of the 20th & 21st centuries who have by force regained the freedom that was once their birthright.

The 1916 Volunteers were ordinary men and women with an extraordinary vision.

When one thinks of 1916 one thinks of many things but one of the most important was the Irish Proclamation read out on Easter Monday, on the steps of the GPO, by Padraig Pearse.

The vision is best encapsulated in the 1916 Proclamation with particular emphasis on cherishing all the children of the nation equally.

It is an inspirational document that calls for togetherness; together let us continually work together to serve the country that we are; a country that has always been in our hearts and minds.

The language to express this vision from 1916 to the present day may have changed but the message is no less relevant.

In commemorating 1916 we honour and pay tribute to patriots, whose aim was to build an Ireland of which we can all be proud.

Their courage and determination took on the might of the British Empire against heavy odds.

Their fight was hopeless, their chances were poor. They were ill equipped and hopelessly outnumbered but they knew that the vision that they proclaimed was the aspiration of the Irish people. In military terms, this was an unequal struggle but this was offset by the moral certainty of the Irish volunteers.

90 years ago our party was founded by people who understood this and were determined to act. 1916 belongs to no party but it played a special role in our foundation. On the list of those who attended our first meeting you find the names Markievicz, de Valera, Pearse, Clarke, Lemass and many others – those who fought and the families left behind by those who gave their lives for us. They founded Fianna Fáil because they saw an urgent need to use freedom in the interests of all of the people and not just the powerful.

They adopted a radical programme to clear tenements and build housing, develop social protection and to create good jobs through supporting enterprise. They expanded education for all and helped the weakest in our society.

The rising hardly spread beyond Dublin and the GPO. In Cork the only place that the British forces met armed resistance in 1916 was in Fermoy. The Easter Rising was the event which radicalised Lynch just as it did much of the country.  On May 2nd 1916 he stood on the side of the street in Fermoy and watched as British soldiers led the Kent family through the town.  Richard Kent died of the wounds he received that day and Thomas was executed a week later.

That day Liam Lynch recommitted himself to the cause in whose service the Kents died and which he too would give his life to. Their deaths are credited with bringing world-wide attention to the Irish cause for freedom and independence Sean O’Brien, first captain of the volunteers in Fermoy, whose grave is behind me  and those who died for the cause in the years following such as General Liam Lynch, Comdt. Mick Fitzgerald, Daniel Shinnick, Michael Rouse & Denis O’Brien are interred here in the republican plot; others are commemorated by inclusion on the monument. The mortal remains of Thomas Kent now lay in Castlelyons.

For each one who gave his life in The Rising of 1916 we know that in the years that followed, the ordinary men and women of Ireland took up the struggle and fought for independence. After The Rising leaders of companies of volunteers from Glanworth, Mitchelstown, and Castletownroche and other areas in Co. Cork were arrested and sent to internment camps.

We can feel proud today not only of the volunteers of 1916 but of what the men & women have achieved since. The freedom that we now enjoy is the direct fruits of the courage and sacrifices of the leaders of Easter Week.

The major political and crowning achievement of the 1916 rising was an Independent Irish State which has taken its place among the nations of the world as a stable democratic state.

* The tricolour is the flag of a free Ireland for the first time in 1,000 years

*  We have our own parliament, courts, Gardaí, Army and Navy.

Since 1916 we have built up a strong National identity which we have enjoyed and shared with the world.

Our culture of music, songs, dance & heritage are unique and important components of the Irish National Identity.

Our state has played a full role in international affairs and has always spoken for peace, reconciliation and disarmament.

We have played a major role in peace keeping with the United Nations throughout the world.

Other nations which were seeking independence were strengthened in their resolve by Ireland’s determination and success.  Today Ireland enjoys an affinity with those nations in a world fraternity of those who overcame oppression to control their own destiny, very often with spectacular success.

The commemoration of national heroes is not unique to Ireland but in this regard the Irish have not been found wanting.  It is important for national morale that each generation is reminded that love of country is timeless.

It is interesting to note how many of our patriots looked beyond the physical struggle to the type of Ireland they wished to achieve.  Their dream of one people and one nation, while embracing diverse traditions, is still a noble and practical aspiration. These Republican ideals on which Fianna Fáil was founded, are the same ideals that we still follow and govern with.

April 10th, 2018 is the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. One of the prime objectives of the Good Friday Agreement is that all people of goodwill strive to eliminate all causes of destructive division whether historical or political. To our Unionist neighbours we say, you have nothing to fear from a country united for the common good and the general welfare of all traditions on this island. The greatest achievement of Fianna Fáil in Government in recent times has been the role we have played in bringing peace to this island.

We are indebted and can never forget those brave people who sacrificed themselves for Irish Freedom, who founded and built this nation we love and who inspired us on our way – the 1916 patriots.

Finally, we owe a debt of gratitude to those who have organised today’s annual commemoration. In this, they have been consistent. It is heartening to see people here today expressing our pride as a nation & celebrating the freedom we achieved. I believe it will be a proud, strong and sustainable commemoration for generations to come.’