General Michael Collins and President Arthur Griffith remembered at 96th annual Collins Griffith commemoration at Glasnevin Cemetery

This afternoon, Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe TD, Mayor of Fingal, Cllr. Anthony Lavin, Chairman of the Collins Griffith Commemoration Society, William Lavelle, and Chairman of the Glasnevin Trust, John Green led proceedings at the 96th annual Collins/Griffith commemoration at Glasnevin Cemetery.

The annual oration at the graveside of Michael Collins was given by former TD, MP and Minister Mr. Austin Currie. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Caledon protest, led by Austin Currie, which is regarded as marking the start of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights movement.

Ms. Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, also spoke at the event to mark the 100th anniversary of Bliain na mBan, when women first earned the right to vote.

The event was marked by the raising of the of the National Flag at the Sigerson Monument by the Defence Forces, and the laying of wreaths at the grave of General Michael Collins by Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe TD, the grave of Arthur Griffith by Deputy-Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Major-General Kieran Brennan, and the grave of Eamon Duggan by Mayor of Fingal, Cllr. Anthony Lavin.

Speaking at the event Minister Kehoe said:

 “This important occasion allows us to reflect on the outstanding contribution made to the State by two colossal figures of Irish politics.

“As Minister with responsibility for Defence, it gives me particular privilege to honour General Michael Collins, whose legacy includes the unrivalled leadership he displayed as Commander in Chief of the National Army during one of our darkest periods.

“Although less celebrated, Arthur Griffith’s legacy and indeed his role in achieving Irish independence provides a timely reminder to us all of the importance of strength and courage in politics.

At a time of uncertainty caused by Brexit, it should be remembered how Collins and Griffith, through dialogue and constitutional politics, ensured the interests of their people were best served. “ 

Following the wreath laying ceremony and readings, a minute’s silence was held. This was followed by the sounding of the Last Post and Reveille. To close the commemoration, Soprano Anna Brady sang the national anthem without musical accompaniment.

Today marks the 96th Collins/Griffith commemoration organised by the Collins/Griffith Commemoration Society. Chairman of the Collins/Griffith Commemoration Society William Lavelle said:

“For 96 years our Society has been organising a public commemoration at the gravesides of General Michael Collins and President Arthur Griffith, two heroes whose legacy was the establishment of an independent Ireland. As we approach the Centenary of their deaths in 2022, we are proud to honour this legacy and to celebrate the constitutional tradition and state they bequeathed us.”

To mark the ‘Decade of Commemorations’ the annual commemorations have been scaled-up in the recent years to include the active participation of the Irish Defence Forces. To that end, as part of the Defence Force’s participation, the Sliabh na mBan armoured car was also in attendance. The Sliabh na mBan formed part of the General Michael Collins’ convoy which was ambushed on 22nd August, 1922, at Béal na mBláth in West Cork, resulting in the tragic death of General Collins.

Commenting on the day’s events Chairman of the Glasnevin Trust, John Green stated:

“The Collins Griffith commemoration is one of the oldest continuous commemorations in Glasnevin and indeed in this State. The poignancy of Collins’ funeral taking place within two weeks of his oration at Griffith’s grave is never lost. Collins and Griffith were not immediate bedfellows, Collins was suspicious of Griffith’s motives early on, but they became extraordinary colleagues and firm friends after de Valera threw them together as plenipotentiaries in the Treaty talks. This commemoration recognises two giants of our struggle for independence; two legends brought together by that struggle and united annually in this observance.”