Republicans and indeed those of all political persuasions in North
Wexford were deeply saddened by the death of Oliver Murray just before
Christmas. An unrepentant Fenian to the very end, he had kept the
torch aflame down through many dark decades and handed it on to a
younger generation. A young boy when Pádraig Mac Piarais addressed a
rally in Gorey, Oliver played his part to the very end and until
recent years trekked many miles across the fields from his farm in
Clough to sell An Phoblacht outside Sunday morning masses in Gorey.
Honorary president of the Volunteer Ed O'Brien cumann of Sinn Féin
until his death at 88 years of age, he was the oldest candidate in the
country when he stood for the party in the 1992 general election at
the age of 81. Oliver was admired and highly respected, even by
political arch enemies, and on receiving a disappointing vote having
been promised by all and sundry, was quick to remark in his typical
and legendary wit: ``I never knew there were 4,000 liars in Gorey!''
Oliver, who was involved in numerous political campaigns down the
years, was given Leinster's Republican Testimonial award in the late
`80s. He was also a committed trade unionist and a GAA colossus,
serving as chairman of the Gorey district for the past 20 years and a
county board delegate for 40 years. His razor sharp wit, generosity,
good humoured nature and colourful turn of phrase left an indelible
mark on all who had the privilege of his company.
Oliver would have looked back in satisfaction that he had stubbornly
held out long enough for the 1798 bicentennial commemorations and to
be able to unveil a monument in memory of the battle of Tubberneering,
where Colonel Walpole was killed by a sniper from a rock on his own
land - a fact of which Oliver was very proud.
Like many an unsung hero, his contribution to the republican struggle
will probably never be fully acknowledged or indeed documented. As his
Tricolor-draped coffin, led by a piper and flanked by a republican
guard of honour brought the town of Gorey to a standstill, with all
shops closing and customers lining the main street, many a curious
onlooker of whatever shade of opinion bowed their head in homage to a
man who was a visionary; an idealist, an unrepentant Fenian.
Life springs from death and from the graves of patriot men and women
spring living nations. Ar Dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.