Ballymacoda Patriot honoured at Kilclooney Wood
The death of the famous East Cork Fenian, Peter O'Neill Crowley, was commemorated on Sunday 2 April 2000 in Kilclooney Wood, which is situated between Mitchelstown and Kildorrery. The very well attended commemoration, which attracted young and old alike, was organised by a locally based community group. A 60-page commemorative booklet for the occasion was also prepared by Patrick Downey.
Readers will recall from their history that Peter O'Neill Crowley was the leader of the 100-strong IRB unit in Ballymacoda during the Fenian rising of 1867. This unit successfully attacked Knockadoon coastguard station seeking arms on the night of the Rising, 5 March 1867.
With the wider failure of the rising because of informer betrayal and unseasonable heavy snow and cold weather, Peter O'Neill Crowley, Capt. John McClure and Edward Kelly, along with others, decided to march for Limerick in an effort to link up with other groups in Munster. They hoped, through strength of numbers, to be able to resist English counter measures against their fight for Irish freedom.
However, while passing through the Kilclooney area of the end of March 1867, they were attacked by crown forces under the leadership of Henry Edward Redmond R.M. (Uncle to John Redmond, who was prominent in the history of later times). Peter O'Neill Crowley fought bravely but was mortally wounded while trying to ford a strong stream in Kilclooney wood.
His funeral from Mitchelstown to Ballymacoda was one of the most impressive demonstrations ever of the Irish people's affection for their beloved Fenian heroes. An tAthair Peadar O Laoire gives an excellent account of this in his book Mo Scéal Féin.
The ceremony at Kilclooney wood this year was the first major commemoration held there since 1967. The guest speaker was the noted historian and leader of the Wolfe Tones group, Derek Warfield. The Anglesboro Pipe Band led the parade. The parade set out from Shraharla church to Peter O'Neill Crowley's monument over a mile away in Kilclooney wood. The impressive Staker Wallace pike group followed the pipe band a pike group followed these in turn from Wexford. Over 1,000 local people attended the commemoration.
BY PÁDRAIG Ó CUANACHÁIN