16th Annual George Brown Memorial Event 2022.
The 16th Annual Inistioge George Brown Commemoration held on 24 June saw this event getting back to its pre-Covid format. Two captivating talks were followed by the traditional wreath-laying and tree planting ceremonies with live musical entertainment thrown in for good measure.
The day began in St Mary’s Church of Ireland in Inistioge where a sizeable congregation heard Fr Peter McVerry speak passionately on the related subjects of the current housing shortage and the scourge of homelessness and their attendant social problems. This was followed by an illustrated talk by retired Irish Army Commandant, Larry Scallan who detailed the involvement of Inistioge people from all social strata in the Great War. Of the forty-six such people who have so far been identified, fourteen were either lost in action or died later as a result of the experience. Of those that returned, Larry Scallan stressed that many bore psychological scars for the rest of their lives. A collection at the church door for the Peter McVerry Trust reflected well on those in attendance, realising €720.
Afterwards, a bouquet of flowers was placed at the George Brown Memorial in the adjoining graveyard by long-time event supporter, Sue Nunn of KCLR96fm. The ‘Last Post’ was sounded by Larry Scallan.
There followed the Woodstock Gardens element of the commemoration. As was the case last year, the good attendance was entertained to a Spanish Flamenco Guitar recital by Craig Ó Mathúna, while a wreath was laid at the Olive Grove in the Walled Garden by Friends of the International Brigades supporter, Davey Carr from Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath.
Every year since the inaugural event in June 2007 a specimen tree has been planted in Woodstock. British Trade Union stalwart, Jack Jones – a former comrade of George Brown and the man who later married his widow, Evelyn Taylor – did the needful. Other guests have included Michael D. Higgins, David Norris and Kilkenny senator Mick Lanigan. In recent years, as some of our founder members and spouses of those on the committee have sadly passed on, members of their families have been invited to plant trees in their memory. This year, committee chairperson, Tom O’Neill, in the presence of the O’Neill and O’Keeffe families, planted a Davidia tree in memory of his wife Mary who passed away in January of this year.
At short notice, the Graiguenamanagh Brass Band, who had over the years welcomed those from Woodstock back to the village with a recital in the Millennium Garden, had to withdraw. The committee is very grateful to brothers, Michael and Eamonn Holden, who filled in and provided a wonderful open-air music session for locals and visitors alike. We were also treated to a poem by local poet Paul O’Rourke.
Unknown to us at the time, a leading member of the Graiguenamanagh Band, Pat Doherty, was terminally ill at the time. Pat, a cornet player, had been a prominent member of the band ever since they first played at the George Brown event in 2007. Our sincere sympathy is extended to his wife, Nellie and to the Dack and Doherty families in Thomastown and Graiguenamanagh.
As ever, the successful staging of a meaningful event, apart from the commitment of committee members, relies on outside funding. From its inception, the annual Inistioge George Brown Commemoration, has been generously supported by a number of trade unions. This year we are happy to gratefully acknowledge the financial support willingly given by UNITE, SIPTU, LAPO & CWU.
WORKING CLASS ACTIVIST
& MEMBER OF THE
XV INTERNATIONAL BRIGADE