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Congratulations to Gayatri Sangra who was school finalist in the Tour Guide Competition run by Glasnevin Cemetery for Transition Year students. Well done to all who participated in the Tour Guide programme. Gayatri is pictured presenting her piece on Rory O’Connor (see below) and receiving her certificate for reaching the Final of the Competition.
It is impossible to tell the story of Rory O’Connor without mentioning his lifelong friend, Kevin O’Higgins. Their friendship is a brilliant representation of how the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War shaped and moulded society and how such events cost the lives of many and the relationships of many more.
We’ll go back to 1883, the year Rory O’Connor was born. Coming from a well-off family, O’Connor met his best friend, Kevin O’Higgins, while he was studying at University College Dublin. In 1911, after receiving his diploma in the College of Science, O’Connor moved to Canada, however he returned to Ireland in 1916 to take part in the famous 1916 Easter Rising. In the years to come Rory O’Connor became actively involved with the Irish Republican Army, also known as the IRA, and it wasn’t until the War of Independence that O’Connor and O’Higgins formed a real deep friendship. Both were often in the company of famous revolutionary leaders such as Michael Collins and they both also oversaw the blowing up of railway lines and bridges. While blowing up different methods of transport does sound like an odd way of protesting, it was the loudest way to have people’s voices heard and it was because of their hard work in that field that Michael Collins appointed Kevin O’Higgins as the Minister for Local Government and Rory O’Connor as O’Higgins secretary. Both friends worked together through the War of Independence and extensively travelled around Ireland together, often staying in safe houses as authorities were on the lookout for both men.
In October of 1921, O’Higgins married Brigid Cole, a teacher he had met during his travels, and asked O’Connor to be his best man. Naturally O’Connor accepted and he was given two golden guinneas by O’Higgins as a souvenir from his wedding day. It was at that wedding, however, that one of the most famous pictures that relate to the Irish Civil War was taken. A picture of O’Higgins, flanked by future president Eamon de Valera on one side, and his best man, Rory O’Connor on the other, alongside his bride sitting in front was taken. In that picture, you can see the bond between the three men and the happiness they had for one another. You can see a team, ready to work together and bring to the people of their nation a free Ireland. Unfortunately, everything from there on out went downhill and it is that picture that is a testament to the friendships that were broken during the Civil War.
It is not surprise that reason why there was a dispute between the two friends, was because of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, a treaty that separated the north of Ireland from the south.
Like Eamon de Valera, Rory O’Connor was against the treaty as he believed that stopping on the way to total freedom would, in the end, never allow them to see a whole independent Ireland. However, like Michael Collins, Kevin O’Higgins believed in the treaty and saw it as a stepping stone to freedom.
Due to the vast difference of opinions, Rory O’Connor and Kevin O’Higgins friendship slowly crumbled away. In July of 1922, with pressure from the British, O’Connor made the decision as the IRA’s Chairman of the Military Council, to shell the Four Courts, the nerve centre of the Irish legal system. After two days of fighting, during which many people were killed, the wounded Rory O’Connor surrendered to the British. It was the shelling of the Courts organised by O’Connor, that essentially ignited the Irish Civil War.
During the time Rory O’Connor was working with the anti-treaty side, Kevin O’Higgins station rose and he became Minister of Justice. I imagine that when he got the job as Minister he was delighted, however he had no idea that on the 7th of December 1922, he would have to sign the death warrant of 4 anti-treaty men, one from each providence as a way of sending a message of zero tolerance all around the country. The condemned men were Liam Mellowes for Connaught, Dick Barrett for Munster, Joe McKelvey for Ulster – and Rory O’Connor for Leinster. At precisely 9 am, all four men were shot dead and were buried in Mountjoy, and it is said that O’Connor had requested the gold guinneas that O’Higgins had gave him only a year before hand to be buried with him regardless of O’Higgins involvement with O’Connor’s execution.
Despite the years of friendship between the two men, in the end of one was killed by the other due war and politics. Rory O’Connor now lies in Glasnevin cemetery, still buried with the golden guinneas, given to him by the man he considered his best friend until the day he died.
On Friday October 21st, a group of 50 First Year students climbed Montpellier Hill to the site of an archaeological dig taking place next to the famous ‘Hell fire Club’. There they were met by archaeologist Neil Jackman and his team from Amarta Heritage who explained to them that they were excavating the site of a Neolithic Passage Grave dating back about 5,000 years (i.e. a tomb which would have been similar to Newgrange at one point). The students were able to see the dig in action, the tools being used, the procedures and methodology being followed and had a Q and A session with Neil at the site. He showed them a Polished Stone Axe discovered just a couple of days previously. This was a wonderful opportunity for our History students who cover the topic of an Archaeologist on a dig as part of their Junior Cert History course. Thanks to Mr Byrne and Ms Hayes for bringing the students on this trip.
This year marks the 100th Anniversary of the 1916 rising.
To mark this significant period in Irish History, Lucan Community College History Department is hosting a series of events:
1. 1916 Commemorative Poster Competition . Students are asked to design a poster to mark the centenary. Prizes for each year group.
Submit your posters to your history teacher by end of Friday 8th April.
2.Transition years are currently working on 1916 projects. These will be displayed in April and prizes awarded at TY graduation ceremony.
3. Any students or staff who have relatives who were involved/ witnessed the events of 1916 (also include 1912 – 1923 including the war of Independence, Civil War..) and have any stories to tell/ primary source material from the time (postcards, medals, newspaper reports..), please talk to your history teacher or to Ms McCarthy urgently.
We hope to gather information to make the 1916 commemorations more local and personal and we look forward to hearing stories from students and staff.
Holocaust Survivor to speak to students, staff and parents at Lucan Community College
Tomi Reichental will speak about his experiences while in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in 1944, to an audience of Senior History and German students, staff and parents. This will be a very special occasion for our college. Students are looking forward to get an unique and personal insight into this tragic event in world history. There are a small number of tickets available through the front office for parents of students who would like to listen to Tomi’s presentation.
Date : Tuesday October 13th
Venue : Lucan Community College
Time : 11 am
- Tomi Reichental was born in Piestany in Slovakia in 1935.
- He was nine years old in 1944 when the Nazis deported him with his mother, grandmother, aunt, cousin and brother to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.
- He survived, along with his mother, brother, aunt and cousin.
- Tomi lost 35 members of his family in the Holocaust.
- He came to Ireland in 1959. Tomi lives in Dublin.
- He won Person of the Year award in 2014.
- He wrote his autobiography “ I was a boy in Belsen” and made two documentaries about his experience, “Till the Tenth Generation” and “Close to Evil” which were both shown on RTE.
- He speaks to school students in order to pass on the lessons of history.
On Tuesday February 3rd 2015, a group of 5th yr History students and their teachers traveled to Belfast, as part of their study of the Leaving Certificate History Topic ” Northern Ireland 1949 – 89″. They received an excellent tour of the Northern Ireland Parliament in Stormont and met with representatives from different political parties. This was followed by an informative and interesting visit to the “Titanic Exhibition” and a bus tour of some of the murals in the city and sections of the peace wall. The students demonstrated a very high level of participation and interest in the activities and found the experience to be a very beneficial one.