Annual Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner 2014

Saturday, November 22nd, saw a full house for the annual Michael Flannery Testimonial Dinner held at Rory Dolan's Restaurant on Maclean Avenue, in Yonkers, New York. This event is organized every year by the National Irish Freedom Committee in order to honor those who have given service to the cause of Irish freedom here in America.

Maggie Trainor, MC for the night, commenced proceedings by introducing special musical guests Derek Warfield joined by Young Wolfe Tone band members Peadar Hickey, Damaris Woods and Dan O' Sullivan. Derek and his band gave a rousing performance that had the entire audience singing along. The NIFC wish to thank Derek and each of the musicians for making sure that the night got off to a great start!

The theme of this years dinner was a celebration of the centenary of the founding of Cumman na mBann. CnmB was founded at a meeting held at Wynn’s Hotel on April, 5th, 1914. This women’s only organization has the historical distinction of being the only Irish Republican organization to have never split nor have deviated from the Republican path since its formation. To mark this anniversary CnmB was represented at the dinner by Lita Campbell. The dinner also served as the launch of the American edition of 'Cumann na mBann - 100 Years Defending the Republic'. This highly detailed and informative book was recently co-written by Lita and historian Dieter Reinisch.

The American edition includes a new preface noting the strong historic connections maintained between Republican women in Ireland and the Diaspora community in the United States. It also includes the text of the oration given by Peig King of CnmB at the 2014 Wolfe Tone Commemoration and the report of the books launch at Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin, in March, 2014. Every woman in attendance was presented with a copy signed by Lita.

Maggie Trainor and Jane Enright kept matters moving smoothly as the presentations of the awards began. The 2014 Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award was presented to Jimmy O' Connor of Windham, New York. Ed Corcoran of Boston Massachusetts received the Sr. Sarah Clarke Human rights award and Liam Murphy was presented with Tomas Mac Donagh Centenary Award.

The special guest speaker then gave an informative talk which gave background to the organization as well as a detailed account of her historic CnmB predecessors visits to America and the tremendous work that the organization engaged in the struggle for Irish Freedom. Vic Sackett who was unable to travel to the CABHAIR dinner held in Dublin last May was then presented with the 2014 USA Honoree Award by Lita for his dedication to helping assist the dependents of Irish Republican Prisoners. Maggie Trainor and Jane Enright were also presented with reproductions of the 1916 Easter Proclamation on beautiful Irish slate for their steadfast support of the Republican Movement.

Peadar Mc Maghnuis then concluded the evening by giving an account of the recent progress the Eire Nua committee has made since last year. Peadar stated the various Irish groups have made contact, as well as, various media outlets noting their success. He ended by asking all present to get involved and help spread the message.
The NIFC would like to thank all who attended the dinner and those who placed ads in the ad journal. Your continued support is what makes these events the success they are.

Click here for a video of Lita Campbell speech

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Líta Ní Chathmhaoıl

Líta Ní Chathmhaoıl was born in Cork city in July 1943. Her mother from Doneraile, Co Cork, and her father from Derry with Donegal connections.

Líta was educated at St Angela’s College, Cork (Ursuline nuns) up to Intermediate Certificate. When she left school at 16 she worked in Cork for about six years. She went to Dublin in 1966 and has lived there since.

From an early age Líta was very interested in all things connected with the National Question and when the Six Counties erupted in 1969 she attempted to join the Republican Movement. This did not happen as people were not being contacted because the 1969-1970 split was happening and it was not until late 1970 that she read an article in the Irish Press by Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and wrote to him. In early 1971 she was contacted by Seán Ó Brádaigh and joined Sinn Féin.

She joined Cumann na mBan later that year and has been involved in the Republican Movement without a break since then.

Líta was very active through Internment and the later happenings in the Occupied Six Counties and lost my job because of it shortly after Bloody Sunday in 1972. Seán Keenan asked her to come and work in a new bookshop at 44 Parnell Square, which she did and was there until the split in 1986 when she rejected Leinster House etc.

She was a member of the Ard Chomhairle of Sinn Féin from 1980-1982 and during the 1980-81 hunger strikes was secretary of the Sinn Féin H-Block/Armagh Committee and also secretary of the Dublin branch of the (broad-based) National H-Block/Armagh Committee. During those years she was also secretary of Dublin Sinn Féin.

Lita remained with Republican Sinn Féin and at the Ard-Fheis in 1987 became joint general secretary, a post she has held ever since. From its foundation in early 1987 she was has been associated with the newspaper of the Republican Movement, SAOIRSE, and is, along with others, part of the Editorial Board of the paper.

While still working full-time for the Movement, Líta returned to education in 1991 and sat her Leaving Certificate. She then went on to complete a BA in History and English at Trinity College Dublin. She did further research on the early history of Munster but was unable to complete it due to Republican commitments.

She is a member of the CABHAIR committee (Irish Republican Prisoners’ Dependants Fund) since its inception in 1986 and secretary of the National Commemoration Committee which organises Easter and the Wolfe Tone commemorations.

Líta co-authored Cumann na mBan: 100 Years Defending the Republic with Dieter Reinisch, which will also be published shortly here in America.

'She is also secretary of the National Commemoration Committee which organises Easter and the Wolfe Tone commemorations.

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Thomas MacDonagh was one of seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic

Tomás Mac Donnchadha, of winning smile and pleasant manner, was born on Lá Bríd 1878, in Cloughjordan, County Tipperary. 

He was a poet, a literary scholar, and friend of William Butler Yeats, as well as a teacher of English and of French, first at Saint Kieran’s College in Kilkenny (where he joined Conradh na GaedhilgeThe Gaelic League, and where the railroad station is now named for him), then at Saint Coleman’s College, Fermoy in Cork, and, finally at Scoil Eanna, where he was both a lecturer and assistant headmaster, under Pádraic Pearse; MacDonagh was also a lecturer in English at the National University, where he developed a friendship with Eoin MacNeill.  In 1910 he became the Irish tutor, and close friend, of Joseph Mary Plunkett – the two men later married sisters, Muriel and Grace Gifford.

In 1913 he was a co-founder, and named to the Central Committee, of the newly formed Irish Volunteers, as well as given command of the 2nd Dublin Battalion; he later became commandant of the entire Dublin Brigade.  He organized the Volunteers, who participated in the Howth Gun-running in July 1914.  He was on the General Council of the Irish Volunteers and Director of Training.  1915 saw Tomás Mac Donnchadha join the Irish Republican Brothrhood (IRB), and, at the request of Tom Clarke, plan the Lá Lughnasa funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, where Pearse’s oration would prove a major milestone on the road to the Rising – Easter Week 1916.

Mac Donnchadha had been co-opted onto the secret Military Council that planned the Rising; he set up a strong position at Jacob’s Biscuit Factory in Dublin, on Easter Monday.  His immediate superior was James Connolly, Commandant General of the entire Dublin Division.  He was assisted by Wexfordman Michael O’Hanrahan, and by Major John MacBride, Mayo Christian Brothers Boy, who had fought (Irish Transvaal Brigade) against the English in the Second Boer War.  Mac Donnchadha was personally responsible for the initiative, which brought the Hibernian Rifles of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) Irish American Alliance into participation in the Rising.

Although his position was strong, and his men willing to continue the fight, Thomas MacDonagh surrendered on Sunday, 30th April, once the surrender order from Irish Republic President Pearse and General Connolly had been authenticated.  After conviction by English court martial, along with Tom Clarke and Pádraic Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh was executed, on 3rd May 1916, by firing squad in the stone-breakers yard of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.

A pilgrimage to the GPO, to Arbour Hill, and especially to Kilmainham Gaol, can have the same psychological effect as the renewing of one’s baptismal vows.

Ar dheis láimh Dé go raibh

Liam Ó Murchadha - Recipient of the Thomas MacDonagh Centenary Award

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Cló Saoirse publish American Edition of History of Cumann na mBan

 To mark the centenary of the republican women’s organisation Cumann na mBan, the Dublin-based publisher Cló Saoirse/Irish Freedom Press published a history of the organisation in April 2014. Due to the success in Ireland and a growing demand from readers living in North America, Cló Saoirse will publish a separate American Edition of the history of Cumann na mBan. The book ‘Cumann na mBan: 100 Years Defending the Republic’ (ISBN 978-0954579128) is written by Cumann na mBan Veteran and Republican Sinn Féin General Secretary Líta Ní Cathmhaoil and Dieter Reinisch, Researcher at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. The American Edition includes an additional Preface on the links between Irish republican women and America, as well as reports from the book-launch organised in April 2014 in Dublin.

On April 5, 1914 over 100 women attended a meeting in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin, presided over by Agnes O’Farrelly, of what was to be Cumann na mBan. One hundred years later, Cumann na mBan has influenced the course of Irish History like no other women’s organisation has done it in the 20th Century. In these one hundred years, Cumann na mBan was the only Republican organisation which stood firmly to the All-Ireland Republic proclaimed in 1916. ‘Cumann na mBan: 100 Years Defending the Republic’ is the first full account of the one hundred years history of this remarkable women’s organisation.

The book includes 136 pages with previously unpublished documents and photos of Cumann na mBan. It is sold for $ 17,-. Bookshops may ask Cló Saoirse/Irish Freedom Press for cost price. Special rates are available for public libraries and universities.

The book will be launched by the National Irish Freedom Committee in the USA on November 22. Líta Ní Chathmhaoil, Cumann na mBan activist from Dublin and co-author of the book, will launch the book at the Testimonial Awards Dinner at Rory Dolan’s, 890 McLean Ave., Yonkers, NY 10704.

The book is available from the National Irish Freedom Committee in the USA; www.irishfreedom.net, NIFC, P.O. Box 358, Bronx, NY 10470, nifcmem@optnline.net.

For orders and any further information contact Josephine Hayden of Cló Saoirse/Irish Freedom Press: +353 (0)1 872 97 47 or irishfreedompress@saoirse.info.

Líta Ní Chathmhaoil & Dieter Reinisch
Cumann na mBan: 100 Years Defending the Republic (American Edition)
Cló Saoirse/Irish Freedom Press
Dublin/New York, November 2014
136 pages,
$ 17,-
ISBN 978-0954579128

 


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