Posted: 16th December 2015

Clongowes Wood College SJ

In 1914 many Old Clongownians responded to the urging of John Redmond and played a prominent role in the Irish contribution to the Allied effort in World War I. These men and their peers saw themselves fighting for Ireland as did the Clongownians who took part in the Irish Revolution and the ensuing tragic Civil War. Next year Clongowes will remember three Old Clongownians who fought in Dublin during the 1916 Rising, two of whom were killed.

One distinguished Old Clongownian, Michael Joseph ‘The O’Rahilly’ (OC 1893 – pictured above with his family), a founding father of the Irish Volunteers, was killed during the Easter Rising, leading a charge, sword in hand, with the same reckless courage that Thomas Francis Meagher (OC 1839) had shown at Fredericksburg during the American Civil War.

In addition to ‘The O’Rahilly’ we lost Gerald Neilan (OC 1898 – 10th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers), who died from a sniper’s bullet fired from the Mendicity Institute. Gerald had been ordered to relieve Dublin Castle as part of the 10th Royal Dublin Fusiliers and he was shot as he crossed the Liffey.

Poignantly, Gerald’s brother Arthur Neilan (OC 1913) was part of the Four Courts Garrison under Ned Daly and he was transported to Knutsford Detention Barracks on May 1st 1916. Arthur went on to serve with the 4th Battalion Dublin Brigade in the War of Independence and remained with the army during the Irish Civil War.

1916 Commemoration

We will commence our 1916 Remembrance at 14.30 on the 31st January 2016 at Glasnevin Cemetery (directions here) with an inclusive ceremony that will commemorate the lives and deaths of these men. Wreaths will be laid at the burial place of Michael Joseph ‘The O’Rahilly’ and the graves of the Neilan brothers, one in the army of the time, the other a rebel.

We welcome any members of staff past and present, alumni and parents to join the Rector, Fr Michael Sheil SJ, the Headmaster, Mr Chris Lumb, Mr Peter Gray, Chair of the Board of Management, the President of the Clongowes Union, Mr Owen Binchy and representatives of the student body and staff at this event.

Light refreshments will be served in the Glasnevin Heritage Centre. We would like to give approximate numbers to the cemetery for catering purposes, so please indicate your interest to reception@clongowes.net.

Now and in time to be,

Wherever green is worn,

[All] are changed, changed utterly:

A terrible beauty is born.

Declan O’Keeffe, Head of Communications

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