This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Ireland’s first hunger strike martyr Thomas Ashe.
Ashe from Lios Póil in the County Kerry Gaeltacht was a member of the Gaelic League, Irish Republican Brotherhood and GAA. He commanded the Fingal battalion of the Irish Volunteers during the Easter Rising.
On the 8th May 1916, Ashe and Eamon de Valera were court-martialed and sentenced to death. Both sentences were commuted to life, and Ashe was sent to a variety of English prisons. While in prison he wrote the poem “Let Me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord”.
Thomas Ashe was released from jail in June 1917 under the general amnesty which was given to republican prisoners. Upon his release he returned to Ireland and began a series of speaking engagements. In August 1917, after a speech in Ballinalee, Longford, where Michael Collins had also been speaking, he was arrested and charged with “speeches calculated to cause disaffection”. He was sentenced to one year’s hard labour in Mountjoy Jail.
Ashe, along with Austin Stack, who was also in Mountjoy demanded to be treated as prisoners-of-war. Having been deprived of a bed, bedding and boots Ashe went on hunger strike on 20th September 1917. On 25th September 1917 he died from pneumonia, which was caused by force-feeding by the prison authorities. He was 32 years old.
From the smouldering embers of Easter Week 1916 the death on hunger strike of Ashe produced a flame. A flame which an empire failed to extinguish, which treachery could not subdue, which today burns its way through hypocrisy and coercion – a living flame.
With many thanks to: James Connolly.
IRISH language exhibition Suil Charad, is back on the road after a Christmas break. The exhibition on Irish language publications from the past 200 years, has been put together by POBAL, will be out on the road again in January.
The exhibition and accompanying booklet document publications in Irish over more than 200 years, and a full, comprehensive schedule has been arranged for the exhibition this year, starting with an extended trip to Cookstown. On Monday 23rd January, Suil Charad will be in Cookstown Library. It will remain there until Monday 6th February, when it will move to the Burnavon Centre, also in the town. There will be an official launch in the library on Tuesday 24th January, at 11am.
Amongst those present will be Seamus Mac Giolla Phadraig, an Irish teacher and member of Comhaltas Uladh and the Rosgoill Gaeltacht, who will give a short talk on the language and publications. Bernie McCann Area Manger for Libraries NI, will officially welcome the exhibition to the library. ” We are very greatful again to Libraries NI for their continuing support in displaying the Suil Charad exhibition in libraries around the Six Counties,” said Janet Muller, Chief Executive of POBAL, ” This is an important piece of work, which documents the growth of the Irish speaking community in this part of the country for more than 200 years, and it is clear from the interest being shown in it that it is an extremely valuable asset to the community.”
Also present will be Sean Clarke, chairperson of the local council; as well as pupils from Scoil Mhuire, the Irish language stream in Pomeroy. ” It’s great that these pupils are coming to see the exhibition,” said Seimi Mac Aindreasa, Development Officer with POBAL, and one of those who researched the exhibition and accompanying booklet.” This history and heritage belongs to them and their families, and it’s important that they should see that there was and is , a large, strong, Irish speaking community around them.” They can also look at the exhibition, read the booklet, and then answer some questions and play some games in the package we have compiled for the childern.” Suil Charad will move to the Burnavon Centre on 6th February, with support from Cookstown District Council.
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With Thanks to the Mid- Ulster Mail.