Saturday, 28 November 2015

Forget not the Boys of Kilmichael

General Tom Barry's account of the Ambush at Kilmichael includes the following reference:

"...At 3 a.m. the men were told for the first time they were moving in to attack the Auxiliaries between Macroom and Dunmanway. Father O'Connell, P.P., Ballineen, had ridden out to hear the men's Confessions, and was waiting by the side of a ditch, some distance from the road. Silently, one by one, their rifles slung, the IRA went to him, and then returned to the ranks. Soon the priest came on the road. In a low voice, he spoke, 'Are the boys going to attach the Sassanach, Tom?' 'Yes, Father, we hope so.' He asked no further question, but said in a loud voice, 'Good luck, boys, I know you will win. God keep ye all. Now I will give you my Blessing.' He rode away into the darkness of the night..."

Patrick Canon O'Connell, was born on 4th March, 1864, at Knockane, Dunmanway, and was ordained a Priest at Maynooth on 24th June, 1890. He had been appointed Parish Priest of Enniskeane in June, 1918 and was created a Canon on 4th July, 1934. He died on 31st January, 1946. When he rode out to minister to the Volunteers that night in November, 1920, he risked not only his life but possibly the disapproval of his Bishop, Dr. Coholan, who, a fortnight later, excommunicated all - Volunteers and British Forces alike - participating in ambush, kidnap and murder. Canon O'Connell was to risk his life once again when he met the Volunteers in the dead of night at Castletown Kenneigh Graveyard to bury their dead.

As we remember 'in song and in story' the Boys of Kilmichael, let us also remember Canon O'Connell.

The Ballad of Kilmichael

Oh forget not the boys of Kilmichael,
Those brave boys both gallant and true.
They fought with Tom Barry's bold column,
And conquered the red, white and blue.

Whilst we honour in song and in story,
The memory of Pearse and McBride.
Whose names are illumined in glory,
With martyrs that long since have died.
Oh forget not the boys of Kilmichael,
Who feared not the ice and the foe.
Oh the day that they marched into battle,
They laid all the Black and Tans low.

On the twenty-eighth day of November,
The Tans left the town of Macroom.
They were seated in Crossley tenders,
Which brought them right into their doom.
They were on the high road to Kilmichael,
And never expecting to stall.
'Twas there that the boys of the column,
They made a clear sweep of them all.

The sun in the west it was sinking,
'Twas the eve of a cold winter's day.
When the Tans we were eagerly waiting,
Sailed into the spot where we lay.
And over the hill went the echo,
The peal of the rifles and guns.
And the smoke from their lorries bore tidings,
That the boys of Kilmichael had won.

The battle being over at twilight,
And there in that glen so obscure.
We threw down our rifles and bayonets,
And made our way back to Granure.
And high over Dunmanway town, my boys,
They sang of the brave and the true.
Of the men from Tom Barry's bold column,
Who conquered the red, white and blue.

There are some who will blush at the mention,
Of Connolly, Pearse and McBride.
And history's new scribes in derision,
The pages of valour deny.
But sure here's to the boys who cried, Freedom!
When Ireland was nailed to the mast.
And they fought with Tom Barry's bold column,
To give us our freedom at last.

So forget not the boys of Kilmichael,
Those brave boys both gallant and true.
They fought 'neath the green flag of Erin,
And conquered the red, white and blue.
First published on the St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association blog in November, 2010.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Saint Colman of Cloyne (24th November)

From Fr. Walsh's History of the Irish Hierarchy, (1854), at pages 246 and following:


The first of these sees was founded by Saint Colman about the year 580. Colman was of royal extraction by his father's side whose name was Lenine or Lenin and brother to one of the Saints Bridget. He is sometimes surnamed Mitine, whence it is to be inferred that he was a native of the district called Muskerry in the county of Cork. The time of his birth is not known but it was probably about the year 522. He seems to have devoted his early years to the study of poetry and we are assured that he was domestic poet to the prince Aodh Caomh, who was raised to the throne of Cashel about the middle of the sixth century, and that he was present, together with Brendan of Clonfert, at his inauguration in Maghfemyn between Cashel and Clonmel. Colman soon after, in accordance with the advice of Saint Brendan, renounced his worldly pursuits and is said to have repaired to the school of St Jarlath at Tuam. Some say that he was the disciple of St. Finbarr of Cork but it is not likely as Colman must have been much older. Colman died according to some in the year 601 or to others in 604. His festival is marked at the 24th of November. It appears that St. Colman became an eminent scholar as he has left a life of St. Senan of Inniscathy written in Irish metre and in an elegant style. He was also a great proficient in the science of the saints.

[Another account of St. Colman's life is to be found here.]