A MONUMENT commemorating the memory of the Manchester Martyrs in Kilrush has been recently restored in time for its 120th anniversary.

Clare County Council with grant aid from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage under the Historic Structures Fund and with the support of Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) funded the restoration of the monument.

Both the Kilrush & District Historical Society and Kilrush Town Team had an input in the project which was managed by the Council. The works to the monument were completed by Mid-West Lime Ltd in collaboration with heritage blacksmith Brendan St. John and involved the full restoration of the stonework and wrought iron railings. All works were guided by conservation best practice.

The Manchester Martyrs’ Monument was erected in 1903. It was a longstanding ambition of the people of Kilrush to erect a monument to commemorate the memory of the Manchester Martyrs.

William O’Meara Allen, Michael Larkin and William O Brien were executed in Salford, Manchester, for the successful rescue of a Fenian prisoner. Their execution in 1867 sparked demonstrations and marches both in Ireland and the UK. It saw a rise in nationalism that culminated in the Easter Rising of 1916. The commissioning and erection of the monument was made possible through raising funds from the local population and the Irish diaspora in America.

Official visit to The Manchester Martyrs’ Monument following restoration. Pictured above: Paul Gleeson, Kilrush & District Historical Society; Charlie Glynn, Kilrush Town Team; Cllr. Ian Lynch, Clare County Council; Pat Dowling, Chief Executive of Clare County Council; John O’Malley, Senior Executive Officer at Clare County Council; Tomás Prendeville, Executive Architect at Clare County Council. Photography by Paschal Brooks, Brooks Video.

The monument is composed of a carved limestone statue of the Maid of Erin and her hound, sitting on top of a two-tier limestone pedestal. There are four marble plaques inset into each face of the pedestal. In 1921, the Maid of Erin statue was torn down by British Auxiliary forces. This saw the iron bars to the western side of the railings being damaged as the statue fell on them, and the Maid of Erin’s hand was broken. This damage is still visible today, with the fabric of the monument bearing the scars of a turbulent past.

Kilrush is a town which values its heritage dearly. The monument is an important historic symbol and forms a backdrop to everyday life within Kilrush.

Cllr Lynch stated, “The Manchester Martyrs’ Monument is an important part of the history and heritage of Kilrush. It is a unique monument and a significant landmark that is highly valued by the local community”.

Pat Dowling, Chief Executive, Clare County Council noted “The Manchester Martyrs’ Monument is a significant historical artefact of national importance. Kilrush is a town defined by its rich heritage and the restoration of the monument underlines Clare County Council’s commitment to safeguarding our built heritage”.

Conservation of the monument was welcomed by Paul Gleeson of Kilrush & District Historical Society. “The monument, now skilfully returned to its original glory, has played a pivotal role in the history of Kilrush”.

“Maintaining and safeguarding of historic structures is an objective under Kilrush Town Team’s Community Strategy and we are pleased to see the Manchester Martyrs Monument conservation project come to fruition. Kilrush is one of only 27 Heritage Towns nationally and we welcome the continued capital investment by Clare County Council in our valuable built heritage. This is an excellent example of community groups collaborating with Clare County Council,” said Chair of Kilrush Town Team, Charlie Glynn.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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