Wreaths laid to mark 100 years since burning of Custom House

Wreaths laid to mark 100 years since burning of Custom House

Minister Darragh O’Brien, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage laying a wreath at the Centenary of the Burning of the Custom House Remembrance Event (Maxwells/PA)

Commemorative wreaths have been laid to mark 100 years since the burning of the Custom House in Dublin.

The city-centre building burned for days after IRA volunteers targeted it in a strike against British rule during the War of Independence in 1921.

Nine people, including five IRA members and four civilians, were killed when the IRA seized the building.

The Department of Housing held the state event at the Custom House on Tuesday.

It was attended by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien and relatives of those who were killed during the attack.

Mr O’Brien said it was a “privilege” to mark the occasion and share it with the families of volunteers and those who died during the cross-fire.

Among those who laid a commemorative wreath was Brian Parsons, a grand-nephew of Captain Patrick O’Reilly and Lieutenant Stephen O’Reilly, who were IRA volunteers killed on May 25.

Gary Deering, from the Custom House Relative Group, paid tribute to those who lost their lives.

The numbers attending the commemorative event were restricted because of Covid-19.

Brian Parsons, a relative of Captain Patrick O’Reilly and Lieutenant Stephen O’Reilly laying a wreath at the Centenary of the Burning of the Custom House Remembrance Event (Maxwells/PA)

“The history of resistance to foreign rule in our country reaches back through centuries,” Mr O’Brien said.

“It’s a story marked by heroism and steeped in tragedy.

“Few moments in that saga stand out as vividly as the audacious assault at the height of the war of independence.

“The struggle for our freedom in Dublin was fought on razor-thin margins, where the difference between life and death was a matter of seconds.

“This was an occupied city, suffocating under the heavy weight of a ramped-up military presence where volunteers faced impossible odds.

“To shatter the mental grip of that occupation, the attack on the Custom House was conceived with sweeping ambition and executed with firm determination.

“The difference between stunning success and devastating failure was always balanced on a knife edge.

“The city sky was lit up by the inferno for days afterwards.

“But from the smouldering rooms would rise a free country.

“The flames that engulfed the Custom House sent a signal bright and clear to the world, a signal that Dublin would no longer be an impoverished city in a global empire.

“The flame of freedom that passed from generation to generation who believed in the ideals for a better Ireland ignited the custom house, the flame illuminated this city and 100 years later it still burns brightly in our Republic today.

“It has shone through the dark shadows our wars, recessions, pandemics.

“So long as the flame burns deep in the hearts of our people we will raise to whatever challenge.”

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