Medals at County Louth museum inspire 2016 Easter Rising centenary exhibit
Blackrock resident’s research uncovers one man’s major contribution to 1916
Kevin Kavanagh (85) only found out in recent years that his father, Seamus who died in 1969, was recruited by Countess Constance Markievicz in his teens and was a runner in 1916 for her. He also walked routes singing ‘The Soldiers Song’, the Irish national anthem, with its writer Peadar Kearney, assessed Michael Collins army position when he arrived in Dublin in early 1916, avoided execution following the Rising and was the Officer Commanding of the battalion which included Kevin Barry.
Kavanagh, along with County Museum Curator, Brian Walsh, is now encouraging everyone to look in their attic or under the stairs to see if they have any relics of 1916 as the museum starts planning a substantial exhibition in the run-up to and including the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016.
Kevin decided to put a record of his father’s life together after he received a laptop for his 80th birthday: “We had always known our father was in the army but he rarely spoke about it nor did we know the depth to which he was involved. It was only when we contacted the army barracks for records that all this information came to light.
“We did know he was in the army. There were a number of items in the house which indicated that, including a gun. But it was only a few years ago that we started to piece everything together.
“Apparently, in his early teenage years, Countess Markievicz approached him in a draper’s shop in which he was working. She asked him to change his name from James to Seamus and invited him to come along to a group meeting. This was the beginning of the Fianna Eireann boy scouts movement. One of the other boys was Peadar Kearney and as they would walk routes around Dublin they would sing a song Kearney was writing – The Soldiers Song..”
In the run up to the Easter Rising, records state that Michael Collins, on arrival in Dublin was annoyed when he was placed as a recruit in 2nd Battalion D Company, of which Kevin’s father had command, until he was told regardless of his previous experience he would have to go through the recruits section before it was decided where he should be placed. That decision would be Seamus Kavanagh’s.
In 1916 he joined Countess Markievicz at St Stephens Green and became her personal ‘runner’.
After the Rising had been put down, combatants were arrested and detained. At some point the captives were divided into two lines. Seamus left his line to talk to another man. When spotted he was then ordered by a British soldier to remain in the other line. He, along with the other men in that line were sent to Frongach in Wales. The other line of people who he had originally been with, included a number of the Rising leadership and all were executed.
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Pat123: Very good observation. We should judge a person by what they accomplish not by the labels put upon on them.The New York Times questions Ireland’s highly-praised economic recovery
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Excellent, useless, reporting, Cormac. I say we round up these blue-eyed devils and put 'em all in a Paddy Wagon and run 'em out of town. Unless they