AN exhibition relating to Kinvara during the War of Independence opened in the village at the weekend.
Kinvara Company, Irish Volunteers 1916-23 will remain open daily from 11am to 3pm until Saturday. The exhibition coincides with National Heritage Week but organisers from the Kinvara Folklore Digital Archive are hoping it will kick-start plans to mark the contribution of men and women in the area to the War of Independence.
“Hosted by the Kinvara Community Council and assembled by members of the community, this exhibition has unique oral and written histories of a small town’s effort within a bigger conflict,” explained Eilish Kavanagh of the Kinvara Folklore Digital Archive.
“A lot of areas, not just Dublin, were active in 1916 and Kinvara was one of those places. Lately, I have attended a couple of heritage meetings about the county’s plans to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising and it struck me that there was no mention of Kinvara. It highlighted to me that maybe Kinvara needed to start working towards something for 2016,” she continued.
“We began discussing it and decided to use Heritage Week as a focal point, and a deadline for ourselves really, to start collecting information, particularly oral and written stories about activity here at that time. It has also been a great way of highlighting this to the diaspora because you need a lot of time to prepare for something like this,” she added.
“There is nothing in Kinvara to mark the contribution of people here. There is no plaque, no memorial, nothing like that. So our idea was to get people together, gather the information and then hopefully we will be able to build some kind of commemoration or something like that for 2016.”
According to Ms Kavanagh, the group has had contact from several families abroad.
“There are some families that were not quite aware of the connection they had to this historic time. One example would be William Quinn, who left for America after his family home was burned down by the Black and Tans. His brother suffered badly and died shortly afterwards. We didn’t have a lot of information about him but then one evening I sat down at the computer and started putting in the few bits of information we had about him, like that he lived beside a man called Michael Fahy and that his house was burned down and the next thing a blog by a woman called Diana Quinn popped up with all the same information on it,” she recalled.
“It turned out she had done research about her family and her husband’s family and there were all these details about William Quinn on her blog. Her husband is William Quinn too, William Quinn the fourth I think, and he is the grandson of the William Quinn who left here. They had come home in the 1980s looking for information about their roots and spoke to Michael Fahy, who has since died, and taken down all this information on the back of the envelope with their flight tickets in it. I contacted Diana and told her what we are doing and she is very enthusiastic about it and said if there is commemoration or a memorial, she would love to come over and see it,” she added.
On Saturday, August 29, when the exhibition draws to a close, there will be a special gathering of relatives and friends of all those who were involved in the Kinvara Company of the Irish Volunteers.
“It seems like Kinvara Company was especially active in 1917, 1918 and 1919 but were probably active even up to 1923. We would love people to come along to the exhibition with information about the group, its activities or historical artefacts they might be willing to contribute to the exhibition. From what we are learning, there were between 18 and 20 arrested or interned here in 1916 and a Fr Meehan’s name keeps popping up,” Ms Kavanagh outlined.
The Kinvara Folklore Digital Archive also has information that Liam Mellowes was active in the area and that the Kinvara Company worked closely with groups of volunteers from Clare.
By Nicola Corlesss