Kilmichael monument debate

There are historical commemorations all year round.

The best known is Béal na mBláth in West Cork (yesterday) on the 91st anniversary of the death in 1922 of General Michael Collins and the State’s first Minister for Finance.

Another is at the Kilmichael Monument in West Cork to remember the turning point in the 1919-21 War of Independence, when a young Tom Barry who had been a soldier with the British army in Egypt led a well-trained group of Irishmen in Nov 1920 to attack a passing group of British Auxiliaries. A battle ensued and the Irish side won. The importance of Kilmichael is, it boosted the campaign of the Irish War of Independence.

The Auxiliaries were specially set up at the time. They burned homes and businesses in County Cork and set alight the commercial heart of Cork city in 1920. They were not seen at the time as a great example of British forces. General Crozier, commanding officer of the Auxiliaries in Ireland, resigned over their behaviour. Their role was to support the RIC (police), who resigned in numbers during the conflict.

There was then surprise at one idea for the new refurbishment of the Kilmichael Monument by the Kilmichael Historical Society and the joint Kilmichael and Crossbarry Commemoration Committee. It was reported the initial plan was to have a plaque of the British Auxiliaries named individually and a large skeletal metal outline of a 1920 Crossley Tender lorry at a new area near the monument.

The refurbishment is hoped to be funded with grant-aid and the idea on the original plans, as it was reported, was to include the Auxiliaries equally, as we are living in times of tolerance in keeping with the Northern Ireland peace process. Some think this a step too far, because of their history.

The Kilmichael and Crossbarry Commemoration Committee met the Kilmichael Historical Society, since concerns became known. The current plan is for plaques to the Auxiliaries with a wording only, a story of the battle and no Crossley Tender. The Auxiliaries and the West Cork brigade will not be named, which I think is a low-key and wiser approach.

Some have asked for a public meeting to discuss it and the wording, as it is a national War of Independence site.

M Sullivan

College Road

Cork

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