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County Longford Decade of Centenaries

Longford County Library, Heritage and Archives Services are co-ordinating the commemorations of the major local and national events that occurred in the period 1912-23. Those momentous years witnessed the progression of the Irish Revolution, culminating in the independence of our state. In the latter half of the Decade of Centenaries we will be focussing on the War of Independence (1919-21), the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921) and the Civil War (1922-23).

Our objectives in marking the centenaries are as follows: 

- To promote knowledge and understanding of local events through the promotion of archives and other sources; encouraging research; and holding talks and workshops;

- Community engagement from all sectors and age groups in the county;

- A strong focus on the education sector, with projects aimed at schools;

- Inclusivity and sensitivity in relation to different cultural, political and religious traditions, and viewpoints;

- The importance of creativity as a means of exploring our history and its complexity.

The annual programmes are developed in consultation with key local stakeholders, who are represented on our Decade of Centenaries Working Group: County Longford Historical Society, the Clonfin Commemoration Committee, Granard Area Historical Society, Ballinalee Community Development and Longford GAA County Board.

Decade of Centenaries Programme 2022

Centenary of the hand-over of Seán Connolly Barracks, 17 February: this involved a ceremony with the Peter Keenan Branch of the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen and Longford Pipe Band.

The sculpture ‘The Circle of Courage’ by Gary Robinson, unveiled at the site of the Clonfin ambush, 27 March

This piece was chosen as the result of an open call in 2021.  It was prepared in response to an account of the ambush, written by Dr Mel Farrell (Royal Irish Academy). It consists of a series of open circles, making up a larger, unfinished sphere. The material used is Corten steel which naturally rusts over time, creating a protective coat. Stones from the homesteads of each of the twenty-one Volunteers involved in the ambush are incorporated into the piece, which is another unique feature. The steel work was completed by Justin Neary and his team at Custom Metal Fabrications, Longford, and Frank Hartman from Core Components also worked on some of the detail.

Cllr Peggy Nolan, Cathaoirleach of Longford County Council, officiated at the unveiling ceremony. Special pieces were also presented to representatives of the families of the Volunteers who took part.

The documentary, Clonfin, by Harp Media, premiered in Granard Library, 26 April

In September 2021, Harp Media, a local film company, owned by Patrick McGivney and Robert Higgins, took-on the making of a documentary about the Clonfin ambush.The documentary tells the story of the Clonfin ambush through a combination of interviews; the use of images and archival footage; and dramatic reconstructions. Professor Marie Coleman of Queen’s University Belfast, an expert on County Longford in the revolutionary period, was the historical advisor on the project. The other contributors were Sr Maeve Brady, Bernard Sexton, Dr Mel Farrell (Royal Irish Academy) and Professor Diarmaid Ferriter (UCD).

Cathaoirleach Peggy Nolan performed the launch. In due course, the film will be available on the YouTube channel of Longford County Library, Heritage and Archives Services.

Exhibition on County Longford and the War of Independence: a combination of information banners, archives and artefacts, opened in Longford Library on 16 March, with Cllr Paraic Brady, Leas-Cathaoirleach, officiating. The exhibition is making its way around the other libraries in the county.

Lecture series

The following lectures were delivered: ‘Unionism in Longford’ by Neil Moxham (January); ‘The Dáil Courts’ by Dr Heather Laird (February); ‘The Beyond 2022 Project’ by Dr Brian Gurrin (May); and ‘The life and assassination of Sir Henry Wilson’ by Ronan McGreevy (June).

Plans are in place for the second half of 2022.

September to November: a lecture per month on the Civil War and related topics.

29 September: Centenary of An Garda Síochána: a parade through Longford town and an exhibition in Longford Library, which will move around the other libraries in the county.

Autumn and winter: debating competition for post-primary schools.

October (TBC): launch of book on the North Longford Flying Column by Bernard Sexton.

Early November (TBC): discussion forum on the Civil War, featuring two guest speakers.

13 November: Remembrance Sunday, Market Square, Longford; in association with the Peter Keenan Branch ONE.

Late November (TBC): launch of book on Longford Great War dead, 1914-21.

Early December (TBC): premiere of film on the Big Houses of Longford.

The programme is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, through its Commemorations Unit.

For details of Decade of Centenaries events elsewhere, please click on https://www.decadeofcentenaries.com/