GAA prepares to remember victims of 1920 killings
The GAA is to stage a special remembrance ceremony in Croke Park on Saturday to honour the 14 victims killed at the Jones’s Road venue by British Crown forces 100 years ago, on Bloody Sunday, November 21, 1920.
The lives of the victims will be remembered in a ceremony that will coincide with the lighting of 14 flames in a dedicated area of Hill 16 and a corresponding pillar of light dedicated to each of those who died.
GAA Ard Stiúrthóir Tom Ryan and Uachtarán CLG John Horan will lay wreaths on the spot where Tipperary corner back Michael Hogan was fatally shot that day, an area of the field in front of Gate 43 at the northern end of the stadium. They will be joined by President Michael D. Higgins and An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin.
The ceremony will adhere to all protocols in respect of Covid-19 and will conclude at 6.30pm for the arrival of the Dublin and Meath teams in preparation for their meeting in the Leinster senior football final.
A minute’s silence will be observed before all GAA championship matches this weekend, including Westmeath’s Joe McDonagh Cup senior hurling clash with Meath in Páirc Táilteann, Navan.
The appalling events in Croke Park 100 years ago, in which 14 civilians were gunned down by Crown forces ostensibly searching for members of the Irish Republican Army, were the grisly second act in one of the bloodiest days of the Irish War of Independence.
Earlier that morning, members of the Squad, an élite IRA unit answerable to Michael Collins (also known as the ‘Twelve Apostles’), visited various Dublin addresses and shot dead 14 people – including a number of British intelligence officers, Royal Irish Constabulary policemen, British army officers and two civilians. The object of the killings was to destroy the upper echelons of Britain’s intelligence network in Dublin.
There were a number of Westmeath connections to the violence which gripped Dublin 100 years ago. One of the British military officers killed, Captain Patrick J. MacCormack, was a native of Castlebar and an officer in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps. He was shot dead at the Gresham Hotel. MacCormack, a nephew of the Bishop of Galway, was also a nephew of the Athlone-based Dr Charles J. McCormack, a former Local Government Board medical inspector who was later appointed as an industrial schools inspector and a medical member of the Prisons Board.
In the shootings which followed at Croke Park, meanwhile, a native of Mullingar, Joseph Doherty (33), was among those injured by Crown forces. Doherty was a son of Elizabeth and the late James Doherty, a family of fruit merchants on Greville Street (now Oliver Plunkett Street), Mullingar. Doherty’s escape from death was noted in the November 27, 1920 edition of the Westmeath Examiner.
Finally, in another local connection to the events of Bloody Sunday, John Macken, a member of the IRA from Castlepollard, told the Bureau of Military History in 1956 that when he was arrested by Crown forces in November 1920, he spent time in Kilmainham Gaol alongside Frank Teeling, the only member of the ‘Squad’ arrested after the shootings.