Clare An Clár

Cliffs of Moher

Although actual activity on the ground in Clare in 1916 would appear sparse, historical resources such as the Military Archives reveal a different story – the county was indeed in a state of readiness with drilling and parading of local volunteers, attempts at acquiring arms and a level of secret mobilisation initiated in preparation to strike when the call to arms was received.

Cé gur dhealraitheach go raibh an ghníomhaíocht féin ar an talamh sa Chlár i 1916 scáinte, déantar scéal éagsúil a insint in acmhainní stairiúla, ar nós na gCartlann Míleata – bhí an contae ullamh, go deimhin, agus bhí na hÓglaigh áitiúla i mbun druileanna agus mórshiúlta, cuireadh tús le hiarrachtaí chun airm a fháil agus le leibhéal de shlógadh rúnda mar ullmhúcháin chun ionsaí a dhéanamh nuair a fuarthas an ghairm slógaidh.

The rescinding of the command to mobilise and news that the arms shipment from Germany had been discovered laid waste to plans for rebellion in both Clare and Limerick but drove a number of Clare men to join the forces in Dublin instead and thus, they became actively involved in the Rising.

‘A Disloyal and Disturbed District’, The Easter Rising of 1916 in Clare — Impact and Legacy, Dr. Tomás Mac Conmara

On 3rd July 1916, the Member of Parliament for West Clare, Arthur Lynch, rose to speak in the British House of Commons. Two months previously, several of his constituents in County Clare had been arrested for their alleged involvement with the Easter Rising in Dublin. Lynch asked the Home Secretary, Herbert Samuel, about prisoners from Clare and encouraged their release in consideration of the fact that there was no disturbance of the peace in the county. Lynch warned that ‘what was a loyal district’ could be transformed into ‘a disloyal and disturbed district’. Lynch’s characterisation of County Clare was understandable. Overtly, little activity had occurred in the county as events in Dublin unfolded. Furthermore, the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), which he represented, had maintained a relative monopoly of political power in the county for almost four decades. The numbers of Clare men dying in the British war effort was increasing and would eventually rise to 600 by the war’s conclusion.

The press, various council assemblies and church authorities seemed ostensibly opposed to the attempted rebellion. However, Lynch’s interpretation requires consideration. His assessment of County Clare during the Rising was based on a reading of the public political landscape. For a more accurate reading, Lynch needed to examine his country more closely. Doing so would reveal, according to the Fenian P.S. Hegarty, that ‘underneath its surface placidity, Ireland was seething’. Any assessment of the Easter Rising and its relevance to County Clare must therefore be understood in the political context and environment of the time. Equally, the legacy of the event should be considered in light of how history unfolded over the following years.

Prior to the 1916 Easter Rising, the political environment in Ireland was not one conducive to public expression of radical thought. In north Clare the Fenian activist, Tomás Ó Loughlen from Carron, was repeatedly arrested and harassed by British authorities for distributing Republican newspapers like The Spark and The Volunteer. Equally, underground members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), such as Micheál Brennan in south-east Clare and Art O’Donnell in west Clare, recalled constant surveillance and harassment for their support of a separatist ideology. In fact, prior to 1916, IPP members P.J. Linnane and Willie Redmond were themselves jailed for making ‘inflammatory statements’ and ‘seditious remarks’ respectively. The reality that there was little room for the development of an alternative ideology meant that the Republican movement necessarily remained underground and could not find traction with overt political sentiment. However, when the atmosphere for expression later became more open a radically different sentiment was revealed in Clare. The swing in majority opinion from Home Rule nationalism to Fenian separatism in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising was not a simple product of cause and effect.

A prevailing undercurrent of dissatisfaction in Ireland in the lead up to the Rising was evident, the primary vehicle for which was the IRB. The emergence of republicanism in Clare was thus largely ensured by its retention in the minds of a relatively small group of Fenians across the county. The embers of the Fenian tradition were kept alive where stories of former attempts at rebellion were passed from generation to generation amidst the glow of open-hearth fires. By the eve of the Rising, men like Peadar Clancy and Jimmy Slattery in Dublin as well as the Brennans and O’Donnells in Clare, were ready to embrace what they felt was their inherited responsibility to strike a blow for Irish freedom.

Largely as a result of the Eoin MacNeil countermand, Clare republicans played a limited part in the Easter Rising activities. However, they ensured that overt expressions of support were noted in Bunratty, Corofin, Carrigaholt and Garraunboy where forces of Irish Volunteers were mobilised. In west Clare Molly Behan sheltered men in her hotel in Carrigaholt, who were hoping to receive arms from the landing of a German vessel posing as the Norwegian Aud. In Dublin, Cranny’s Peadar Clancy, Martin Lynch from Coolmeen and Jimmy Slattery from Bodyke were prominent in the fighting. It has been since suggested that the Canny brothers from Tulla, as well as west Clare’s PJ Hogan and Murt Tubridy also participated directly in the Rising.

When in June 1917, the sitting MP for east Clare, Willie Redmond, was killed fighting in France, County Clare took centre stage in the national story and it was perhaps then that the legacy of the Easter Rising became more real. The election of Sinn Féin’s Eamon de Valera in the east Clare by-election of July 1917 was followed by an offensive undertaken by Clare Volunteers against the British authorities.

This would culminate in the Mountjoy Hunger Strike of September 1917, which saw the death of Tomás Ashe and a subsequent upsurge in support for Republicanism. In the setting of the now popularised Easter Rising, the hunger strike found traction with a renewed Irish psyche. This trend of increasing republican activity continued in the County, and in February 1918, Clare became the “first Special Military Area” in the country. By mid 1919, IRA companies were established in almost every parish in the county and Clare was now a hotbed of advanced republican activity, which would continue throughout the War of Independence and Civil War.

The Easter Rising of 1916, as a category of memory, has always held a powerful place in the Irish psyche. When considered against the prevailing political environment, County Clare can be proud of its contribution. However, the legacy of the Rising in Clare becomes more potent when understood in the context of how the County embraced its philosophy and message and played a leading role in the struggle for Irish freedom over the succeeding years. In townlands, villages and parishes of Clare, the men of the IRA and the women of Cumann na mBan, together with their supporters, undertook momentous challenges and made significant sacrifices in order to deliver liberty to their people. Because of the localised nature of these activities, the vernacular memory over time subverted the national and the local experience became a more immediate reference point for the people of Clare. The entire mnemonic landscape in Clare demonstrates the importance of the struggle for Irish independence in the consciousness of the people. The increasing focus on the Easter Rising as a national event presents an opportunity to deepen our understanding of its legacy and of the enduring message of its leaders.

Highlights of Programme

In preparation for the 1916/2016 commemoration Clare County Council held public consultation workshops in Ennis, Shannon, Kilrush and Scariff over four nights from 15th to the 18th June, 2015. These workshops were facilitated by the Ireland 2016 office and attended by over 100 people. Thirty-one completed applications for funding were received by 31st July. The following programme reflects the community response to calls on how best the public in Clare wish to commemorate 1916 in 2016. The national programme reflects a number of strands and the Clare programme attempts to mirror this. Events of 1916 and the following years are very much intertwined in the memory of Clare people as one continuous event or period in time. This is evidenced in the planned publication of Clare Military Monuments 1916-1921 by the Clare 22 Battalion Association and a number of commemoration groups who wish to add a 1916 proclamation plaque to an existing commemorative site. The town of Kilrush in West Clare has planned an ambitious year long celebration of 1916 beginning with the launch of a programme in January 2016 – a themed St Patrick’s Day Parade and commemoration ceremonies in March, with GAA and sports events, lectures and theatrical events and a summer event celebrating 100 years of West Clare music, song and dance. Peadar Clancy and Con Colbert are remembered in Cranny and Cooraclare while the production of the sculptures of 'The Homecoming' and the standing stones monument in Shannon will create lasting legacies of this period of commemoration and celebration. The Frongoch album acquired by the County Museum last year will be on display throughout 2016. It brings an element of reality to talks about the period and is a lasting reminder of the men involved in this part of our nation’s history.


Taking into consideration the community’s response to the commemoration of 1916/2016 through the consultation process, it is evident that there is a great interest in this period of history in Clare. Local memories have survived which now seek expression, and through a year long series of lectures, exhibitions, ceremonies and schools programmes it is hoped that both adult and child alike will gain a knowledge and understanding of what 1916 was about, how it related to Clare and how it influenced what came after. There is a pride in the Irish flag, a pride in Irish identity and an earnest wish to display this pride and for the county to be part of the national commemoration.

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Chuir cealú an ordaithe chun slógadh a dhéanamh agus an nuacht gur thángthas ar an lastas arm ón nGearmáin, na pleananna le haghaidh éirí amach sa Chlár agus i Luimneach ar ceal, ach spreag sé líon Cláiríneach chun gabháil leis na fórsaí i mBaile Átha Cliath ina ionad sin, agus ar an ábhar sin, d’éirigh leo páirt ghníomhach a bheith acu san Éirí Amach.

‘Ceantar Mídhílis agus Corraithe’, Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916 sa Chlár — Tionchar agus Oidhreacht an Dr Tomás Mac Conmara

An 3 Iúil 1916, sheas an Feisire d’Iarthar an Chláir, Arthur Lynch, chun labhairt i dTeach na dTeachtaí de chuid na Breataine. Dhá mhí roimhe sin, gabhadh roinnt dá vótálaithe sa toghcheantar i gContae an Chláir mar gheall gur líomhnaíodh go raibh baint acu le hÉirí Amach na Cásca i mBaile Átha Cliath. D’fhiafraigh an Loingseach den Rúnaí Baile, Herbert Samuel, faoi phríosúnaigh ón gClár agus spreag sé a scaoileadh saor trí iarraidh orthu a thabhairt san áireamh nár cuireadh isteach ar an tsíocháin sa chontae. Thug an Loingseach an rabhadh go bhféadfaí ‘ceantar mídhílis agus corraithe’ a dhéanamh de ‘cheantar dílis’. Thuigfí don saintréithiú a rinne an Loingseach ar Chontae an Chláir. Dar ndóigh, ba bheag gníomhaíocht a tharla sa chontae de réir mar a thit na himeachtaí amach i mBaile Átha Cliath. De bhreis air sin, choimeád Páirtí Parlaiminteach na hÉireann (IPP), a ndearna sé ionadaíocht dóibh, monaplacht choibhneasta de chumhacht pholaitiúil sa chontae ar feadh nach mór daichead bliain. Bhí na líonta de Chláirínigh a bhí á marú in iarracht cogaidh na Breataine ag dul i méid agus bhainfeadh sé 600 fear amach ar deireadh faoin tráth a bhí an cogadh thart.

Ba dhealraitheach go raibh na nuachtáin, tionóil éagsúla na gcomhairlí agus údaráis na heaglaise i gcoinne iarracht an éirí amach. Is gá machnamh a dhéanamh ar léirmhíniú an Loingsigh, áfach. Bhí an measúnú a rinne sé ar Chontae an Chláir i rith an Éirí Amach bunaithe ar thuiscint ar an tírdhreach polaitiúil poiblí. Chun teacht ar thuiscint níos cruinne, ba ghá don Loingseach scrúdú ní ba dhlúithe a dhéanamh ar a thír. B’éard a nochtfaí, trí sin a dhéanamh, ná ‘underneath its surface placidity, Ireland was seething’, dar leis an bhFínín, P.S. Hegarty. Ní mór aon mheasúnú a dhéantar ar Éirí Amach na Cásca agus an méid a bhain sé le Contae an Chláir a thuiscint i gcomhthéacs agus i dtimpeallacht pholaitiúil an trátha sin, ar an ábhar sin. Ar an gcuma chéanna, ba cheart breithniú a dhéanamh ar oidhreacht an imeachta i gcomhthéacs conas a thit an stair amach i gcaitheamh na mblianta dá éis sin.

Roimh Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916, níor chuir an timpeallacht pholaitiúil in Éirinn le smaoineamh radacach a nochtadh go poiblí. I dtuaisceart an Chláir, rinne údaráis na Breataine an gníomhaí Fíníneach, Tomás Ó Lochlainn, ón gCarn, a ghabháil agus a chiapadh mar gheall gur scaip sé nuachtáin phoblachtacha ar nós The Spark agus The Volunteer. Ar an gcuma chéanna, rinneadh faireachas agus ciapadh leanúnach ar chomhaltaí ‘faoi thalamh’ de Bhráithreachas Phoblacht na hÉireann (an IRB), ar nós Mhichíl Uí Bhraonáin in oirdheisceart an Chláir agus Airt Uí Dhónaill in iarthar an Chláir mar gheall gur thacaigh siad le hidé-eolaíocht scarúnaíoch. I bhfírinne, roimh 1916, cuireadh na comhaltaí den IPP, P.J. Linnane agus Willie Redmond, chun príosúin i ngeall ar ‘inflammatory statements’ agus ‘seditious remarks’, faoi seach, a dhéanamh. Mar gheall nach raibh ach beagán de dheis ann, i bhfírinne, chun idé-eolaíocht mhalartach a fhorbairt, ba ghá don ghluaiseacht phoblachtach a choimeád faoin talamh agus níorbh fhéidir léi dul ó neart go neart mar gheall ar an meon fairsing polaitiúil. Nuair a tháinig fairsingiú ar an atmaisféar chun tuairimí a nochtadh, áfach, nochtadh meon fíor-éagsúil sa Chlár. Ní raibh an t-iompú ar thuairim an tromlaigh ó náisiúnachas an Rialtais Dúchais chuig scaradh Fíníneach in iarthréimhse Éirí Amach 1916 mar thoradh simplí ar chúis agus éifeacht.

Ba léir gur bhraith an formhór míshásamh in Éirinn i gcaitheamh na tréimhse a fhad leis an éirí amach, agus ba iad an IRB an príomhrud a spreag an míshásamh sin. Ar an ábhar sin, bhí teacht chun cinn an phoblachtachais sa Chlár deimhnithe, den chuid ba mhó mar gheall go raibh grúpa sách beag d’Fhínínigh ar fud an chontae gafa leis. Coimeádadh gríosach thraidisiún na bhFíníní deargtha nuair a cuireadh scéalta faoi iarrachtaí a rinneadh roimhe seo chun éirí amach a bhaint amach ó ghlúin go glúin os comhair lasracha tinte teallaigh oscailte. Faoin oíche roimh an éirí amach, bhí fir ar nós Pheadair Clancy agus Jimmy Slattery i mBaile Átha Cliath, i dteannta mhuintir Uí Bhraonáin agus Uí Dhónaill sa Chlár, réidh chun tabhairt faoin bhfreagracht a bhraith siad a leagadh orthu a chomhlíonadh agus chun an fód a sheasamh ar mhaithe le saoirse na hÉireann.

Go mór mar thoradh ar fhreasordú Eoin Mhic Néill, ghlac poblachtaigh an Chláir páirt theoranta i ngníomhaíochtaí Éirí Amach na Cásca. Chinntigh siad, ar a shon sin, gur taispeánadh tacaíocht shoiléir i mBun Raite, Cora Finne, Carraigh an Chabhaltaigh agus sa Gharrán Bán, áit a raibh fórsaí Óglaigh na hÉireann bailithe thart. In iarthar an Chláir, rinne Molly Uí Bheacháin fothain a thabhairt d’fhir ina teach ósta i gCarraig an Chabhaltaigh, a raibh súil acu le hairm a fháil ó theacht i dtír báid Ghearmánaigh a lig air bheith mar Aud na hIorua. I mBaile Átha Cliath, ghlac Peadar Clancy de bhunadh na Crannaí, Máirtín Ó Loingsigh ón gCúil Mhín agus Jimmy Ó Slataire ó Lúbán Díge, páirt mhór sa troid. Tugadh le tuiscint ó shin i leith gur ghlac
deartháireacha Uí Chainnia ón Tulach, mar aon le PJ Ó hÓgáin agus Murt Ó Tiobraide ó iarthar an Chláir, páirt dhíreach san éirí amach chomh maith.

Nuair a maraíodh an Feisire a raibh suíochán aige d’iarthar an Chláir, Willie Redmond, sa Fhrainc, bhí Contae an Chláir i lár báire sa scéal náisiúnta agus is ag an tráth sin go mb’fhéidir go ndearnadh oidhreacht Éirí Amach na Cásca a fhíorú. Lean ionsaí ag Óglaigh an Chláir i gcoinne údaráis na Breataine toghadh Éamon de Valera de chuid Shinn Féin san fhothoghchán in Iúil 1917.

Bheadh Stailc Ocrais Mhuinseo i Meán Fómhair 1917 mar thoradh air seo, ina bhfuair Tomás Ashe bás, mar aon le treisiú na tacaíochta leis an bpoblachtachas ina dhiaidh sin. I gcomhthéacs Éirí Amach na Cásca, a bhí i mbéal an phobail faoin tráth seo, spreag an stailc ocrais tacaíocht tar éis go raibh feasacht athnuaite ag muintir na hÉireann ar chúrsaí. Lean an treocht seo de ghníomhaíocht mhéadaitheach phoblachtach sa chontae, agus i bhFeabhra 1918, rinneadh “an chéad Limistéar Míleata Speisialta” sa tír den Chlár. Faoi lár na bliana 1919, bhí complachtaí bunaithe i ngach mór gach paróiste sa chontae agus bhí sa Chlár faoin tráth sin áit a raibh ardghníomhaíocht phoblachtach theasaí ar siúl, a leanfadh ar aghaidh i gcaitheamh Chogadh na Saoirse agus an Chogaidh Chathartha.

Ábhar cumhachtach i meon na hÉireann atá in Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916, mar chatagóir chuimhne riamh anall. Nuair a chuirtear san áireamh é i gcoinne na timpeallachta polaitiúla um an dtaca sin, ábhar bróid is ea an méid a chuir Contae an Chláir leis an éirí amach. Treisítear oidhreacht an Éirí Amach sa Chlár, áfach, nuair a dhéantar é a thuiscint i gcomhthéacs conas a d’fháiltigh an contae roimh a fhealsúnacht agus a theachtaireacht agus ghlac an contae ról ceannais sa streachailt do shaoirse na hÉireann i gcaitheamh na mblianta dá éis sin. I mbailte fearainn, sráidbhailte agus paróistí an Chláir, thug fir an IRA agus mná Chumann na mBan, mar aon lena lucht tacaíochta, faoi olldúshláin agus rinne siad íobairtí suntasacha ar mhaithe le saoirse a bhronnadh ar mhuintir a dtíre. Mar gheall gur tharla na gníomhaíochtaí seo go háitiúil, rinne an chuimhne dhúchasach le himeacht ama beag is fiú den eispéireas náisiúnta agus rinneadh pointe tagartha níos láithrí as an eispéireas áitiúil do mhuintir an Chláir. Léiríonn an tírdhreach iomlán cuimhneolaíoch sa Chlár an tábhacht a bhain leis an streachailt do neamhspleáchas na hÉireann i gcoinsias na ndaoine. Cruthaíonn an díriú méadaitheach ar Éirí Amach na Cásca mar imeacht náisiúnta an deis chun an tuiscint atá againn ar a oidhreacht agus ar theachtaireacht sheasmhach a cheannairí.

Buaicphointí an Chláir

Mar ullmhúchán do Chomóradh 1916/2016, chuir Comhairle Contae an Chláir ceardlanna comhairliúcháin phoiblí ar siúl in Inis, Sionainn, Cill Rois agus sa Scairbh i gcaitheamh cheithre oíche ón 15 go dtí an 18 Meitheamh 2015. D’éascaigh Oifig Éire 2016 na ceardlanna seo agus d’fhreastail os cionn 100 duine orthu. Fuarthas 31 iarratas comhlánaithe ar chistiú faoin 31 Iúil. Léiríonn an clár a leanas freagairt an phobail do ghairmeacha ar conas is mian leis an bpobal sa Chlár an comóradh is fearr a dhéanamh ar 1916 in 2016. Léirítear sa chlár náisiúnta líon snáitheanna agus déantar iarracht i gclár an Chláir chun seo a mhacasamhlú. Tá imeachtaí 1916 agus na mblianta ina dhiaidh sin fite fuaite go mór lena chéile i gcuimhne na gCláiríneach mar imeacht leanúnach amháin nó mar thréimhse amháin ama. Is léir seo i bhfoilsiú pleanáilte ‘Clare Military Monuments 1916-1921’ ag Cumann 22ú Cathlán an Chláir agus ag roinnt grúpaí comórtha ar mian leo plaic Fhorógra 1916 a chur le suíomh reatha comórtha. Tá ceiliúradh uaillmhianach 1916 ar feadh na bliana ar na bacáin i mbaile Chill Rois in Iarthar an Chláir agus seolfar an clár in Eanáir 2016 – beidh Mórshiúl Téamach Lá Fhéile Pádraig agus searmanais chomórtha ar siúl i Márta, beidh imeachtaí CLG agus spóirt ar siúl, beidh léachtaí agus imeachtaí amharclannaíochta agus imeacht samhraidh ar siúl a dhéanfaidh ceiliúradh ar cheol, amhráin agus rince Iarthar an Chláir ar feadh 100 bliain. Cuimhnítear ar Pheadar Clancy agus Con Colbert sa Chrannaigh agus i gCuar an Chláir agus cruthóidh cruthú na ndealbh “The Homecoming” agus séadchomhartha na ngallán sa tSionainn oidhreacht mharthanach den tréimhse seo de chomóradh agus de cheiliúradh. Beidh albam Frongoch, a fuair Músaem an Chontae anuraidh, ar taispeáint i gcaitheamh 2016. Cuireann sé gné den fhírinne le cainteanna faoin tréimhse agus is meabhrúchán marthanach é de na fir a ghlac páirt sa chuid seo de stair ár náisiúin.


Nuair a chuirtear san áireamh freagairt an phobail do chomóradh 1916/2016 tríd an bpróiseas comhairliúcháin, is léir go bhfuil ollspéis sa tréimhse seo den stair sa Chlár. Tá cuimhní áitiúla fós beo agus lorgaítear anois iad a chur i bhfocail, agus trí shraith léachtaí, taispeántas, searmanas agus cláir scoile a mhairfidh bliain, táthar ag súil leis go mbainfidh idir óg agus aosta eolas agus tuiscint amach ar a raibh i gceist le 1916, conas a bhain sé leis an gClár agus conas a d’imir sé tionchar ar an méid a tharla ina dhiaidh sin. Táthar bródúil as bratach na hÉireann, táthar bródúil as féiniúlacht na hÉireann agus tá sé d’fhíor-rún againn an bród seo a léiriú agus go mbeidh páirt ag an gcontae sa chomóradh náisiúnta.

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