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Volunteer Anthony O'Reilly

Commemoration held on 9th January 2011, Celbridge, Co. Kildare

A crisp 9th of January morning saw sixty people attend a commemoration for Volunteer Anthony O'Reilly at Donaghcromper cemetery in Celbridge, Co. Kildare. The event took place after a mass held in his memory at St. Patrick's church, Celbridge. Volunteer O'Reilly was one of a group of five executed by a Free State firing squad on 8th January 1923 after being captured in battle near Leixlip.

At 12.30 a colour party led those assembled from the cemetery gates to the graveside. The commemoration was chaired by N.G.A. president Mr. Donncha Ó Mathúna. A piper opened proceedings with a lament and then wreaths were laid on behalf of the National Graves Association by Mr. Philip Partridge. A decade of the rosary followed and the main oration was given by N.G.A. P.R.O., Mr. Paddy Lennon.

Paddy gave a detailed account of Anthony O'Reilly's tragically short life along with details of the conditions in which the condemned men spent their last moments. An insight into the state of mind of the men was given through excerpts from their last letters to loved ones. Such clarity and bravery in such young men is impressive. Comparison was then made between the Ireland of Yeat's poem "September 1913" and the Ireland of today. Paddy closed with a heart-tugging rendition of Pearse's poem "The Rebel".

The morning came to a close with "Amhrán na bhFiann" played by the piper. Those in attendance were then invited back to Celbridge GAA club for refreshments.

Special mention must be given to Mr. Séamus Ó Mídheach who put so much work into organising the day's events. It was the hard work of Seamus and his team that made this commemoration such a success and hopefully the attendance will be maintained over the coming years.

Liam Culbert