On Sunday the 6th March 2010 relatives and friends of the late Tess Kearney gathered in Glasnevin cemetery for the 10th anniversary commemoration of her death.
Below is the oration given at the time of her funeral by the then chairperson of the N.G.A. Seán Dougan.
The cause of the Irish Republic proclaimed in arms in 1916 and established by the free vote of the Irish people in 1918 has suffered a great loss with the death of Tess Kearney on February 5, 2000.
She was the granddaughter of a Fenian and her father was a committed Republican. He lost his job in the Post Office because he refused to sign an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. The family had to leave Derry and moved to Co Donegal and eventually moved to Dublin when Tess was still a young girl. She had a successful career in banking and subsequently with a Catholic newspaper and was an enthusiastic member of An Óige for a number of years as a young woman.
But her great and abiding interest, which was life-long, was the cause of Irish freedom and the ending of British rule in Ireland and she worked unceasingly to that end. She served on An Cumann Cabhrach for many years and joined the National Graves Association, eventually becoming Secretary of that organisation.
In the last 30 years she played a leading role in the repatriation of the remains of Roger Casement, Barnes and McCormack and Dunne and O'Sullivan from England, the Connaught Rangers from India and Frank Ryan from Germany.
Most recently she made trojan efforts to get the Free State administration to release the remains of Kevin Barry and nine other executed Republicans from Mountjoy prison yard so that the National Graves Association could give them a dignified burial in an honoured place.
Tess was formidable and determined in pursuit of the rights and dignity of the patriot dead.
When the Free State government proposed to build a bus-park at the Croppies Acre, Tess organised the opposition to this disgraceful proposal and routed the Office of Public Works in double-quick time!
The 1798 Memorial Park on the site of the Croppies Acre is an enduring memorial to Tess's determination and unconquerable spirit.
Tess was injured in the 1974 bombing of Talbot Street and in the last ten years she endured indifferent health which got progressively worse in the last 18 months.
Despite this she carried on with her work in the National Graves Association up to the end. People like Tess are a rare breed. She had courage and tenacity in great measure. She loved her country and served it selflessly; she was faithful to the end. The Latin phrase semper fidelis would be an apt epitaph for a life of unselfish service to the cause of Irish freedom.
At the graveside Peig Galligan of the National Graves Association presided and praised Tess's life and work. Geraldine McCabe recited a prayer and a piper played a lament. Flags carried included that of the NGA and the 1798 flag -- a gold harp on a green field. The coffin was draped in the National Tricolour.
Seán Mac Fheorais read Pearse's poem The Rebel, so suited to the spirit of Tess Kearney. Seán Dougan, chairperson of the NGA, delivered the oration, in the course of which he said: ""It says in the Bible 'By their fruits you shall know them'.
"During the last ten years with Tess as its secretary, the National Graves Association was streamlined into an effective organisation, which restored and erected numerous monuments . . . she has left the association in an excellent state to continue our patriotic work in perpetuum. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís."
Ar dheis lámh Dé go raibh a anam uasal.