A Canadian radio broadcaster is to visit East Clare this weekend with a view to obtaining background information on the Scariff Martyrs for use in a forthcoming documentary.
Chris Brooks from Battery Radio in Canada is working on a radio documentary about Black Hugh Tudor, who was in charge of the British Forces in Ireland during the Irish war of Independence and intends on including the murder of four Scariff men in 1920.
Tomás MacConmara, who is researching a book on the Scariff Martyrs and who has been liaising with Mr Brooks, said the case of the Scariff Martyrs “is a powerful example of the brutality of the British forces known as Tudor’s toughs”.
“The capture, torture and murder of the four Scariff Martyrs was a clear and undeniable case of state murder and Hugh Tudor, as the head of police, bears some responsibility,” Mr MacConmara stated.
He explained that Tudor was the ultimate police authority in Ireland when auxiliaries under his control captured and murdered Alphie Rogers, Michael McMahon, Martin Gildea and Michael Egan on November 16, 1920 in Killaloe.
The martyrs’ murders are commemorated annually in Tuamgraney and Scariff and this year’s event takes place directly after mass in Scariff at 10.30am and at 12am in Scariff.
The East Clare Memorial Committee has announced that John Michael Tobin from Laccaroe in Feakle, who turns 100 in August, will lay this year’s commemorative wreath at the grave of the Scariff Martyrs.
Over 90 years ago, John Michael attended the funeral of the four men with his mother, who was a member of Cumann na mBan.
The East Clare Memorial Committee has attempted to involve older people from the community, who provide a direct connection to the time, in their annual commemorations and this involvement been acknowledged by committee member Councillor Pat Hayes.
“Over the last number of years, we have had Paddy Gleeson, who passed away last year as Ireland’s oldest man, come and lay the wreath. In addition, last year, Flan O’Brien from Ballymalone laid the wreath in Tuamgraney. Flan was always proud of the Scariff Martyrs and we are glad that he got the opportunity to lay the wreath before he passed away earlier this year. We’re delighted that John Michael Tobin is able to come and lay the wreath in Scariff this year, having already participated in the 90th anniversary celebrations last November. As far as we know, John Michael is the last person alive to have attended the funeral of the Scariff Martyrs, so it’s a real honour to have him with us,” he said.
This year’s anniversary also marks the 90th anniversary of the Kilrush ambush, when on April 23, 1921, members of the IRA’s East Clare Brigade secretly travelled to West Clare, to support their West Clare IRA comrades, in a planned attack on the British forces stationed around Kilrush.
“The following day, the RIC Barracks, British Army post and the Coastguard Station at Kilrush were attacked resulting in a significant military boost for the IRA. The attack was led by Michael Brennan, the O/C of the East Clare Flying Column and men from the West Clare brigade led by Sean Liddy and Bill Haugh. It was a significant ambush and the men who travelled from East Clare played an important part, which is something we should acknowledge,” Mr MacConmara added.
The commemorations of the Scariff Martyrs has become a tradition in Scariff and Tuamgraney over the past few decades and the committee is determined this will continue.
“We are proud that there were men and women from East Clare brave enough to fight and die for the freedom of their country and we could be very ungrateful if we didn’t mark their sacrifice at least once a year. The Easter Rising and its inherent patriotism, should act like a wellspring of inspiration for all Irish people, both young and old. It’s vital that we continue to openly and unapologetically commemorate and honour that event and others in the republican tradition,” Mr MacConmara concluded.