03 April 2006

1916 commemoration ‘a mistake’

Irish Examiner

By Ryle Dwyer
03 April 2006

THE oldest survivor of the War of Independence is opposed to this year’s Easter Rebellion commemoration - despite marching in many military parades over the years.

Colonel Seán Clancy, 104, said: “I don’t think there is much point in commemorating it this year. We used to parade on Easter Sunday. The army marched past at the GPO and so on, but that’s a thing of the past now. The army is not strong enough for parades. Bertie Ahern, I think made a mistake by announcing that he’s going to have a army parade next Easter Sunday, the 90th anniversary.”

Speaking with Maurice O’Keeffe in a Radio Kerry interview last night, he claimed: “We’d be only showing our weakness, if we tried to bring the army out. The cream of the army is away on foreign service. It would be only a skeleton section of the army that would appear on a parade.”

But he thinks the utmost should be done to celebrate the centenary of Easter Rebellion in 2016.

Col Clancy recalls being stationed in Limerick in 1928 when his whole battalion went to Dublin for the Easter parade.

“They did it in a big way in those days, but they haven’t got the men to do it nowadays,” he said.

In the interview, Col Clancy spoke of witnessing the hand over of Dublin Castle in January 1922. He was detailed to go to the castle that morning.

“I remember well - there were 50 or 60 of us, and there was a long delay,” he said.

Michael Collins was uncharacteristically late, and kept the Lord Lieutenant, Lord FitzAlan, waiting.

As Collins alighted from a taxi, Col Clancy recalled that a tall, good-looking man approached him and took out a watch.

“Mr Collins, you’re seven minutes late, and you have kept the Lord Lieutenant waiting,” he said.

“Yerra, you people are here 700 years, what bloody difference will seven minutes make now that you are leaving,” Collins replied.

What Col Clancy and others apparently did not realise was what was really happening was that Michael Collins was receiving his commission as chairman of the Provisional Government from the representative of the British King, the Lord Lieutenant.

That was clearly not something that a Republican would wish to highlight, so the Big Fellow put his own spin on the event by keeping Lord FitzAlan waiting and then afterwards issuing an announcement that he had taken “the surrender of Dublin Castle”.

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