Descendants and relatives of Irish Volunteers who fought in one of Cork’s major War of Independence ambushes are being invited to walk in their ancestors’ footsteps.

A search has been launched to track down the descendants of the men involved in the Cúl na Catharach ambush, near Baile Mhúirne, on February 25, 1921.

The commemoration will involve the descendants retracing the steps of the Volunteers, but bearing flags instead of guns, as they walk between the various positions taken by the freedom-fighters. As many as 100 flags will be carried in the commemoration, on Sunday, September 11, which is being held to coincide with an annual event in honour of Baile Mhúirne Gaelic scholar and activist, An Dochtúir Dónal Ó Loingsigh.

Descendants can register their contact details at Baile Mhúirne Library, where a full list of the original Volunteers is available. The library is open on Tuesdays (10am to 6pm); Thursdays (2pm-7pm); Fridays (10am to 6pm); and Saturdays (10am-1pm).

The commemoration, at the ambush site, beside the N22 between Baile Mhúirne and Macroom, begins at 12.30pm, with an address by former TD Tom Meaney, whose relatives lived near the site, in one of several cottages burned-out by British soldiers in the immediate aftermath.

Cork County Council heritage officer, Conor Nelligan, will unveil a roadside information board, showing the precise locations of the engagement, as well as an app detailing the ambush, and permanent flags marking the site.

The commemoration, which is a precursor to a larger-scale event planned for the ambush’s centenary, in 2021, has been organised by the Acadamh Fódhla, a hedge-school university based in Baile Mhúirne/Cúil Aodha.

Its founder, composer Peadar Ó Riada, explained the significance of the ambush, which many believe played an important part in persuading the British to enter into negotiations that led to the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, in December, 1921, and the end of the War of Independence.

“It was very important, because the British had won in Dripsey two weeks before and they thought they had the annihilation of the IRA,” said Mr Ó Riada. “It came on top of the other ambushes and showed them that the cost of winning the war, financially and in manpower, was prohibitive.

“They thought they had all the aces in their hands after Dripsey, but they still didn’t manage to win at Cúl na Catharach.”


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