Brendan Howlin TD at the Olive Grove.
Brendan Howlin TD at the Olive Grove.

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Mick Wright.
Mick Wright.

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Graiguenamanagh Brass Band.
Graiguenamanagh Brass Band.

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Brendan Howlin TD at the Olive Grove.
Brendan Howlin TD at the Olive Grove.

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1/22

15th Annual George Brown Memorial Event 2022

Saturday 25 June, Inistioge once again embraced the Annual George Brown Commemoration. Since 2008 Inistioge-born George Brown, a member of the International Brigades who was killed in action during the Spanish Civil War, has been remembered in his native place.

Central to this year’s remembrance was the visit of Brendan Howlin T.D. who, as has been customary over the years, planted a specimen tree in the grounds of Woodstock.  In a well-crafted speech at the Olive Grove in the Walled Garden he addressed the issue of what Ireland’s response, as a non-aligned country, might be to the war in Ukraine. 

 

As usual, music played a large part in the commemoration. Steffi Goulde and Terry Bannon kept the attendance entertained at the Tea-Rooms in Woodstock Gardens, while Craig Ó Mathúna impressed at the Olive Grove with stirring Flamenco music on his guitar. He also spoke movingly of Federico Garciá Lorca, the Spanish poet, playwright and theatre director, murdered by Nationalist forces at the beginning of the civil war.  As in previous years, a wreath was laid at the monument in the Olive Grove dedicated to the four Kilkenny men who enlisted in the International Brigades – George Brown and his brother, Michael, and Seán Dowling and Michael Brennan, both from Castlecomer. On this occasion, Cllr Tomás Breathnach laid the wreath. The Committee is particularly grateful to Tomás for his help in organising this year’s gathering.  On return to Inistioge, all enjoyed a recital by the Graiguenamanagh Brass Band in the Millennium Garden – for many the annual highlight.

 

Over the years, from time to time, the Committee remember those who supported the event but, sadly, are now no longer with us. Committee members, Amanda Richards and Joe Doyle, spoke of Manus O’Riordan who died since the previous commemoration. Manus was the son of Mick O’Riordan, one of the most prominent Irishmen to serve with the International Brigades. Manus had a strong connection with south Kilkenny as his wife Annette Hennessy was a native of Glensensaw in the adjoining parish of Tullogher. He was throughout his working life a committed trade union official and political activist. Not surprisingly he was a dedicated memorialist of the International Brigades and served as Ireland Secretary for the International Brigades Memorial Trust. From 2008 he was a regular speaker at the annual event.

 

Since the previous commemoration Inistioge lost one of its dearly loved and respected parishioners. Publican, Johnny O’Donnell at all times facilitated the George Brown Committee by providing a room for its regular meetings. He and his late brother James helped in no small way to make the annual event a success. It was fitting that the members of the O’Donnell family should be asked to lay the display of flowers at the George Brown Memorial Plaque in St Colmcille’s Graveyard. Adding to the poignancy of the occasion was the presence of members of the O’Brien, Tobin, Lackey and Knox families. Relatives of George Brown still living in the Inistioge/Tullogher area.

 

It is hoped that next year a full celebration can return with lectures on aspects of the Spanish Civil War, the threats to democracy in the present day, exhibitions and entertainment along with the outdoor events outlined above.

The Committee would also like to acknowledge the financial help received from SIPTU, UNITE & CWU.