It was there that John Sheehy of Clonakilty, Co Cork, a first cousin of my maternal grandfather, perished on February 15,1918.
I wish therefore to protest most strongly at the grotesque insult to his memory, and that of 2,600 other Corkmen who also perished as a result of that war, perpetrated by the fancy dress concert organised in Cork City Hall by Fine Gael Lord Mayor Brian Bermingham last Saturday.
My late mother recalled for me the heartbreak and sorrow that had been experienced by John Sheehy’s family, not least because he had died as British cannon fodder.
Others felt the same way, including one of the icons of Fine Gael and a founding father of this State, Kevin O’Higgins, who had lost his own brother in that same war.
Notwithstanding such personal loss, the soon-to-be-assassinated home affairs minister unequivocally declared himself opposed to a proposed Merrion Square memorial to the Irish world war dead. As he told the Dáil in March 1927: “You have a square here, confronting the seat of the Government of the country... I say that any intelligent visitor not particularly versed in the history of this country would be entitled to conclude that the origins of this State were connected... with the lives that were lost in the Great War in France, Belgium, Gallipoli, and so on. This is not the position. The State had other origins, and because it had other origins I do not wish it suggested, in stone or otherwise, that it has that origin.”
Lord Mayor Bermingham has further succeeded in insulting the memory of Fine Gael’s own dead heroes, especially that of Kevin O’Higgins, whose name is inscribed alongside Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins on the Leinster House Cenotaph.