Sword a ‘symbol of city’s history and courage’

A direct descendant of the man who first raised the tricolour and proclaimed it to be our national flag will return to his great-great-grandfather’s home city next month.

Gilbert Lee Meagher plans to present his ancestor Thomas Francis Meagher’s battle-scarred sword to Waterford City Council.

The 1848 tricolour celebration takes place on Sunday, Mar 10.

“I have been following the trials and tribulations of Waterford on the internet over the last few years,” Gilbert Lee Meagher said at the weekend.

“I can see times haven’t been easy. But I’d like the sword to be looked upon as a symbol of Waterford’s history and courage.”

A veteran both of the 1848 Young Ireland uprising and — after he was transported to Tasmania and escaped and fled to America — the US Civil War, Thomas Francis Meagher had “fág a bealach” (clear the way) as his “fighting Irish” battle cry.

“I have every belief,” his great-great grandson said, “that Waterford will clear every obstacle in its path to greater prosperity. I keep reading and hearing about The Gathering this year in Ireland and the attempts being made by thousands of Irish worldwide to make it home. I hope the significance of my great-great grandfather’s sword being returned to his birthplace will go someway to helping your cause.”

He described the sword as “a family treasure” and said it has been on display in a museum in Montana for years.

“But the truth is that it truly belongs to Waterford. It will be a proud moment handing his sword over to the people of Waterford. In my heart it belongs to the people of Waterford.”

Mayor of Waterford Jim Darcy says the “priceless artefact” was of immeasurable importance to the city and the country.

Thomas Francis Meagher played an integral role in the struggle for Irish independence and his ideals are reflected in the tricolour that flies throughout the State. The same flag flies in the spot it was first raised at 33 The Mall, Waterford.

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