By Tom Aherne

The death has taken place of Margaret Madge White (nee Relihan) Coole West, Athea and formerly of Kilcolman and Tournafulla. A private family funeral Mass was celebrated in Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Athea on Monday, May 10, followed by burial afterwards in Holycross cemetery, Athea. Sympathy to her daughter Kathleen (Val), sons Donie, Billy and Pat, brothers Willie and Patrick, sisters Kathleen and Bridget and extended families. May she rest in Peace.

Mass is celebrated each Saturday evening at 7.30pm in Coolcappa, and 10am Sunday morning in Kilcolman. There will be no weekday masses in Coolcappa/Kilcolman parish for the next few weeks. All are welcome back and health  guidelines are in place.

Chairman John P 0’Sullivan and members of the Saint Kieran’s Heritage Association were busy in the past two weeks marking the 100 anniversary of the Gortaglanna Tragedy (Knockanure) which took place on May 12, 1921. On Sunday, May 9, they visited Paddy Dalton’s grave in Templeathea Graveyard and laid a wreath there. Mary O’Neill, Bruff and late of Old Mill, his niece, on behalf of the Dalton family also laid a wreath there. On Wednesday, May 12, they were present at the IRA Monument in Newcastle West, where the Limerick Major on behalf of Saint Kieran’s Heritage Association laid a wreath there. They also visited the monument in Gortaglanna later that evening. A recall of the events can be viewed on the Saint Kieran’s Heritage Association Facebook.

Róisin Mann, Ardagh and the Newcastle West camogie club is a member of the Limerick Junior panel for 2021. Limerick will compete in Division 3, and are in group B along with Clare, Waterford and Carlow. They defeated Clare by 2-16 to 2-10 on Saturday last.

The Ardagh Development Association and Saint Kieran’s GAA joint weekly lottery draw took place on Monday, May 10.The numbers drawn were 4, 11, 15, and 16, and there was no winner of the €5,600 Jackpot.  Congratulations  to the five lucky dip winners who received €40 each:  Kieran Madigan online,  Frank O’Connor, c/o Denis Greaney,  Billy Broderick, c/o Mackessy’s,  Francis O’Connor, c/o Denis Greaney, and Timmy Madigan, Ardagh. Next Monday night’s jackpot will be €5,700. People can play online using club force on the club’s Facebook page, with 6pm on Monday evening the deadline. The tickets are also on sale at the usual outlets, and all support will be appreciated.

Creeves Celtic  held their split the pot draw on Monday, May 10. Congratulations to Niamh Goggin, who won €124 The weekly   entry fee is €2, with €1 going to the club and the other €1 to be paid out in prize money each week. The envelopes to place your two euro in plus details, are available at Hanley’s Food Store Creeves,  and from committee members.  People can also sign up by standing order for €9 per month. The  draws will be held on Monday nights, and all support will be appreciated.

Congratulations to Aoibheann Brouder, Templeathea, Athea, who won €325 in the West Limerick 102fm 50/50 draw, held on Friday May 14. The tickets cost €2, and they are available from volunteers, in local shops, (including Moloney’s Carrigkerry, and Denis Greaney’s Shop Ardagh) or from the radio station. All support will be appreciated as finances are tight due to lack of fundraising. The radio station is off limits to members of the public at present, with only volunteers allowed access. When restrictions are lifted all will be very welcome to visit and get involved in programming. A number of exciting new programmes are in the pipeline for later in the year. The station can be contacted at 069-66200 if people have news of interest to the West Limerick area.

This Friday, May 21, is the 49th  anniversary of Carrigkerry winning the 1971 Limerick County junior football  championship at the Gaelic Grounds Limerick. The match was played on that date, but the year was 1972 as the championship was not finished in 1971. They defeated East champions Pallasgreen by 2-8 to 1-5 after an exciting game played in wet conditions. It was the very first county title to come to the combined parishes and when captain Johnny Kennelly collected the cup, he was literally  mobbed by enthusiastic supporters on the way to the dressing room.

The team was Mike O’Connor, Michael (Haulie) Foley, Moss O’Connor, Maurice Windle, Johnny Kennelly (Captain) Tommy Cregan,  John Windle, Paddy D O’Connor, Stephen Kennelly 0-1, Aiden Murphy 0-1, Jim Bourke 1-0, Tim Crowley 0-1, Tommy Greaney 1-1,  John Hartnett,  Tommy Upton 0-2. Subs used Tommy Kelly 0-1, Sean McCarthy 0-1. Subs: Patsy Nolan, Chris O’Connor, Denis Greaney, Stephen Murphy, Trainer Donie Flynn. This win was the start of a great era of success for the team which became known as Saint Kieran’s  from  1972.

Saint Kieran’s GAA Club will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its formation in 2022. A small committee has been put in place to publish the history of Gaelic games within the Ardagh, Carrigkerry, Coolcappa, and Kilcolman area.  The above win will form part of this history which will chronicle all grades and areas of the club. The work is progressing despite the drawbacks of Covid-19, and members who would like to contribute  articles relating to the history are asked to do so as soon as possible, as a lot of material has already been sourced and late arrivals may not be included.

The Gortaglanna Tragedy                               Tom Aherne

WEDNESDAY   MAY 12 was the one hundred anniversary of the shooting of three young men at Gortaglanna near Knockanure  in North Kerry. The brutal execution of Flying Column fighters Paddy Dalton,  Jerry Lyons and Paddy Walsh by the Black and Tans is still recalled and spoken about. A number of ballads were written about the event which helped to keep the incident fresh in the minds of people, and plans were in place to mark the centenary, but had to be postponed  due to Covid restrictions. West Limerick was associated with the atrocity because Paddy Dalton was from Athea  a few miles from the Kerry border.

Growing up we heard the older generation speak and discuss this terrible incident from the dark days of our history. Relations of Paddy Dalton lived around my locality which created more interest about it each May when commemorations were held at the roadside monument. Paddy Dalton was born on February 23, 1896 in Coole Athea, son of Michael and Hanora White.  He was educated locally and went into employment  as a hardware assistant in Listowel. Paddy became  a member of the North Kerry Brigade of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), and participated during the  War of Independence (1919–1921).

The months of April and May 1921 were particularly violent in the seven-mile stretch between Listowel on the west and Athea, County Limerick, on the east. Sir Arthur Vicars, fired for negligence as Ulster King of Arms after the theft of the Irish crown jewels in 1907, lived at nearby Kilmorna House. The IRA believed that he was informing on their activities to the British army, and on April 7 they ambushed a group of soldiers returning to Listowel after a visit to Kilmorna, and an IRA man Mick Galvin was killed.

On April 14, about thirty IRA men raided Kilmorna House. According to a report in the Irish Independent the next day, the republicans escorted Vicars from his bedroom while he was still wearing his dressing gown and shot him outside the house in the garden. Around his neck was a note: “Spies and informers beware; the I.R.A. never forgets.” The IRA then burned the house. As a result the Black and Tans were on the lookout for revenge and tensions were high as people were afraid of reprisals. This led to the shooting dead of three unarmed men and the lucky escape of a fourth.

A troop of Black and Tans were travelling out from Listowel towards Athea when they arrested four young unarmed men in Gortaglanna. Prior to this the barracks in Listowel had been burnt out and the troops, heavy with drink and bent on revenge decided to execute the young men. The first to be shot was Jerry Lyons along with Paddy Walsh and Paddy Dalton. When this happened, Con (Cornelius) Dee decided, as he was going to be shot anyway, to make a run for it. He did, and almost immediately took a bullet in the thigh but managed to keep going. He ran for about three miles and survived. He was never recaptured but remained in hiding until the Truce. All three of the other men were shot on the spot. Today a memorial stands by the roadside where the three died during Ireland’s struggle for independence.

According to newspaper reports, the bodies of Dalton, Lyons, and Walsh were brought first to the Listowel police barracks and then to Tralee. On May 18, the Irish Examiner wrote that they were then returned to Listowel by train. Many people along the route shut their window and door blinds in sympathy, “but the police immediately after compelled them to raise their blinds and re-open the doors on penalty of having them burst in forcibly.”

Paddy Dalton is buried with his family in the old  Temple Athea  graveyard. His stone reads, “Murdered At Gurtaglanna By British Forces.”

The most famous ballad of the events is Bryan MacMahon’s “The Valley of Knockanure”, written in 1946. In memory of Jeremiah Lyons, Patrick Dalton and Patrick Walsh, murdered by Crown Forces at Gortnaglanna, Co. Kerry on  May 12, 1921

You may sing and speak about Easter Week or the heroes of Ninety-Eight,
Of the Fenian men who roamed the glen in victory or defeat,
Their names are placed on history’s page, their memory will endure,
Not a song is sung for our darling sons in the Valley of Knockanure.

Our hero boys they were bold and true, no counsel would they take,
They rambled to a lonely spot where the Black and Tans did wait,
The Republic bold they did uphold though outlawed on the moor,
And side by side they bravely died in the Valley of Knockanure.

In 1979 Leo Finucane a 27 year old farmer’s son from Gale Bridge, Moyvane  recalled the events in a documentary  film. He made the film almost single-handed  during an eight month period with a cast of 57 from the Knockanure area. The two hour film cost more than £2,000 to make. He shot thousands of feet of film on his 8mm cine camera, which had a sound unit attached. The cast, bar one (Athea) came from the Knockanure area, and they included farmers, garage men, factory workers,  and from many other occupations. It was filmed on location and much of it was made at the actual places directly connected with the killing.

The filming took place on Sunday’s, Holyday’s, Bank Holiday’s, and most evenings from 7-9pm. Leo used about 70 reels of film which he edited himself. The scripts were typed by his wife and the main actors learned their lines as they went along. There were a number of indoor scenes which were filmed in old country thatched cottages. My local church in Carrigkerry was one of the locations used for the film, as  Athea church had been modernised. Fr John Connors gave permission, and he recited part of the mass in Latin to facilitate  the film maker.

The film titled “The Gortaglanna Tragedy”  was shown in the Con Colbert Hall Athea on November 9, 1979, and at other parish halls around the locality. Another  film about the events was made in 2009, and a couple of books have been written  recently to mark the 100 anniversary. Captain Paddy Dalton’s name is kept alive in Athea  with the naming of Daltons Terrace on May 16, 1971 on the 50th anniversary commemorations a plaque was placed on the corner house. I will conclude with the final verse of the song.

Oh, Walsh and Lyons and Dalton brave, although your hearts are clay,
Yet in your stead we have true men yet to guard the gap today,
While grass is found on Ireland’s ground your memory will endure,
So God guard and keep the place you sleep and the Valley of Knockanure.