RELATIVES of the west Cork men who defeated the Auxiliaries at the Kilmichael Ambush visited the site in recent days to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the event.
Throughout Saturday, groups of people visited the monument at the site to remember IRA brigade who had fought and killed 17 British soldiers on November 28, 1920. Three of the brigade were killed in the engagement, which was led by General Tom Barry.
Among those attending a ceremony at the monument on Saturday were members of the Cork Brigade Reenactment Group, who were dressed as members of Tom Barry’s team of men.
There was no formal commemoration ceremony at the site this year because of the Covid-19 public health restrictions.
At Castletownkenneigh on Saturday morning, parish priest of Enniskeane parish, Fr Tom Hayes, said prayers at the grave of the three Irishmen who were killed – 16-year-old Pat Deasy from Bandon, Jim O’Sullivan from Rossmore and Michael McCarthy from Dunmanway. Local musician Colum Cronin sang the ballad The Boys of Kilmichael at the graveside.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the ambush at Kilmichael turned the tide of the war against the Black and Tans.
She said: “Until Kilmichael, there was a sense of invincibility around the forces of the Crown in Ireland. The Rising of 1916 had been suppressed - its leaders executed, and volunteers imprisoned. The British occupied the country. The great and the good told the people there was no other way.
"But the IRA volunteers who gathered at Kilmichael were not deterred by any of that. They were not motivated by personal gain. They were not in awe of the great and the good. They were motivated purely by the noble cause of a free and equal Ireland as envisaged by the Proclamation of Easter Week. They set out in defence of the Republic.”
She added: “Jim O’Sullivan, Michael McCarthy, and Pat Deasy laid down their lives for Irish freedom. It is important that we not only honour their memory but that we honour it in the right way. By working for a united Ireland and for the realisation of a real republic.
"One hundred years later, we remember the sacrifices of those volunteers, but we live by their principles and we recommit ourselves to building the Ireland they fought to achieve.”