Madigan Muses: Remembering Our Irish Patriots
by Marilyn Madigan
May is a sad month in Irish History. In 1916, the Leaders of the 1916 Rising were executed. The first of the 10 Hunger Strikers died on May 5, 1981. I was honored to meet family members of our Irish Patriots: Muriel McCauley, granddaughter of Thomas MacDonagh, and Tony O’Hara brother of Patsy, one of the Hunger Strikers.
In February, I was privileged to travel with the AOH Freedom for All Ireland Tour. Last month, I shared most of this wonderful experience in my article. A few days before the trip started, I experienced a very special tour of the escape route from the GPO in 1916 lead by a granddaughter of one of the Leaders of 1916, Muriel McCauley.
Muriel and I have been Facebook friends since 2016, thanks to our mutual friend, Sandi Swift. Sandi tried to connect us during my Easter Rising Tour in 2016. For the past three years, a love of Irish History has been shared. The highlight of our shared interest in Irish History was this special tour.
Muriel was aware of my focus on the Women of 1916, so she showed us first the escape route the women took helping the wounded to the hospital. We visited Moore Street and then the actual site of the surrender. Following the walking tour, Muriel spoke of her family and their roles during the Rising and the tragic death of her grandmother Muriel Gifford MacDonagh in 1917. She showed us her grandfather’s 1916 Medal, a locket with her grandparent’s hair and an original Cumann na mBhan pin.
I was thrilled to hold Thomas MacDonagh’s medal. The song Grace was written about her great aunt, but now, when I hear the song, I think of my friend Muriel and the sacrifices of her family. At the conclusion of our visit, we joined the Irish Nurses in their march down O’Connell Street to let the concerns of Nurses and the care of their patients be known. How proud I was to join my fellow nurses in this important march.
Tony O’Hara spoke to the FFAI Tour about his brother Patsy and Bobby Sands. We had the honor to visit the Republican Graves in Milltown Cemetery. This area is sacred ground to all who have a quest for Freedom. I am proud that the AOH and LAOH donations help the National Graves maintain this sacred ground.
As we begin the month of May, let us remember our Irish Patriot dead. As Americans, we know the price of freedom, please remember all those who sacrificed for us this Memorial Day.