Tracing the Graves of Sligo’s IRA Volunteers

Sligo Sinn Féin’s memorial sub-committee is renovating the graves of more than 30 of the county’s Republicans to mark the centenary of those killed during the Irish War of Independence.

The most recent memorial event he held in the old part of Sligo Cemetery was for Michael McCrann, an IRA volunteer from Sligo Town, who died at the age of 19, from an accidental gun discharge during the War of Independence in 1921.

Vol McCrane, A Coy, 1st Battalion, Sligo Brigade, IRA, was accidentally shot dead at Gilhooly Hall in the town of Sligo.

The event was attended by former councilor Sean McManus who has been heavily involved in the remembrance project.

“What we usually do is put a wreath there and maybe a little bit of music.

There will be a reading of the proclamation and Sligo’s Roll of Honor.

“Then there’s a short sentence from someone who will be familiar with the person we’re missing,” he said.

“Michael McCrann would have joined an IRA at a relatively young age.

“It is hard to determine whether Michael himself would have been involved in all the actions, but I do know that Sligo was a rescue from Gaol in 1921.

“After several attempts in late June, the Sligo Brigade succeeded in freeing three major IRA leaders from Sligo Gaol.

“He was later executed on New Year’s Eve in 1921 and unfortunately died as a young man.”

Sligo mayor Arthur Gibbons presided over the centenary and said that these events are “so important because so many of these people might otherwise be forgotten.”

“We don’t just remember these people when it’s popular to do so, we have commemorations every year and that’s something we take a lot of attention to,” he said.

“We think that these people gave their lives for the gift of freedom that we have today, especially in the free state, and that they should be paid for the work they did in history and for their lives.” “

Mr McManus said his memorial project covers a five-year period of the events of the centenary, beginning with Martin Savage of Balisodare, who died in a gunfight during an ambush in Ashtown on December 19, 1919 , for Patrick Gorman of Kilmakoven, who died of injuries. at the beginning of 1924.

“One aspect of the work that is quite extensive and time-consuming is actually locating the graves of these martyred soldiers, finding out what condition their monuments are in, and determining whether they should be upgraded or Remedial work is needed,” he said.

“The next step is to find families. In most cases they are relatively easy to find and establish direct descendants but in other cases we cannot find them and as a result it is difficult.”

“Maybe the headstone is seriously dilapidated and we obviously have to be very careful so we are not encroaching on the grave and where the family themselves want to work.

“I’ve done a lot of research about these people who have died, some of whom I can’t identify their families with or can only find very little information about.

“If you can’t find the families and the local people don’t know any direct descendants, it’s possible that the family has died or immigrated to another area.”

“In most cases these tombs are very well maintained by their descendants, in other cases a small number are not and that’s where you have to spend money and it’s us to get a few euros here and there. puts in an effort to get something to work.

“Some members are more interested in it than others, some people who are not members of Sinn Féin also have a good interest in what we are doing and are very supportive of it.

“All of this costs a lot of money and if people want to support us they should contact their local Sinn Féin representative.

“Repairs come from donations and in some cases families are very financially supportive as well as what we’re trying to do.”

Mr McManus said there are several Republic Monuments scattered throughout the county that he is also interested in restoring if needed.

“There is a memorial to Thomas Sheeran near Cula Cross in Soye, we spent a lot of money working with families about 18 months ago.

“There are also other monuments like Harry Brehany in Cullen which are in very good condition and I don’t think any more work will be needed,” he said.

“Unfortunately, there is still a significant amount of work before us on the graves because more people died in the civil war in County Sligo than in the first phase against the British.

“However, there are a significant number that require no work, simply trimming the grass and in some cases re-letting but have been very well taken care of by families over the years.”

Mr McManus was very grateful to everyone who has provided donations as well as supported CK Memorial Limited who have provided the work with very limited funding.

These are many more commemorative events to coincide with the centenary year of his death in 2022.