Ireland-2016-largeThe story of the two men from the Ring Gaeltacht who fought in the 1916 Easter Rising was retold on TG4 last Sunday.
The story looked at how Liam Ó Réagáin and Seán Ó Gríofáin were both working in a hardware shop in Maynooth and members of the Maynooth Volunteers when the rebellion began. They, along with thirteen other men, left the town of Maynooth on the evening of Easter Monday, and set off to walk to Dublin. In telling this story, members of Aisteoirí an tSean Phobail, a local acting group in Old Parish, a neighbouring parish in the Gaeltacht, re-enacted the walk and acted it out for the cameras under the direction of film-maker RoseAnn Foley.
En route the men went through Maynooth College, stopping to ask the President, the very Rev Monsignor Hogan, for his blessing. “He did not approve of what we were doing. He gave us his blessing, however,” recalls Domhnall Ó Buachalla in his witness testimony to the Bureau of Military History. But he continues: “we came out of the College on to the canal bank and proceeded towards Dublin. For some portion of the way we travelled on the railway, and at other times through fields, until we arrived at Glasnevin Cemetery. We walked across the Tolka River which is about two feet deep and entered the cemetery.”
The men’s arrival at the GPO gave great heart to the Volunteers who were there. They were welcomed by Connolly and Pearse. After a break they were sent to take up positions in Parliament Street to help rescue a group of Volunteers who were cut off at Dublin City Hall and the Evening Mail offices. After a bloody battle here they were ordered to evacuate the building.
Liam Ó Réagáin describes in his witness testimony how they went “back to the GPO for the remainder of time doing dangerous dispatch work, guarding windows, barricading, reconnoitring enemy positions, assisting in conveying (James Connolly included) wounded to Moore Street after the evacuation of the GPO, breaking through walls in Moore Street for the reception of Garrison, six nights and five days without sleep”.
After the bloodshed and the terrible fighting on Parliament Street, the young man managed to get out of Dublin with a fellow volunteer and make his way back to Maynooth, where he was arrested and sent to Kilmainham.
Both men lived into their 70s but recognition for their involvement in the Rising was delayed and it took many frustrating years of campaigning before their acts were acknowledged. Despite the action and hardships endured by both, their pension applications to the Military Service Pensions Board were turned down time after time. In the end both were recognised and honoured.
Produced by local television company, An Corsaiceach, which is headed up by Catherine Foley and her sister, RoseAnn, the documentary will be repeated at TG4 on Tuesday, 16th February at 6.25 pm.

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