New Memorial To Patrick Thompson Unveiled In Finea, Co. Westmeath

The 1916 Societies held a commemorative event in West Meath.

On Sunday 3rd April, the Spirit of Irish Freedom Society Westmeath continued their initiative to commemorate the men and women from the county who gave their lives in defence of the All-Ireland Republic. A ceremony to unveil a new memorial stone to Vol. Patrick Thompson was held at the spot where he was killed, in the village of Finea, Co. Westmeath, in 1920.

Over one hundred and fifty people assembled at the ‘Myles the Slasher’ Monument in the rural village of Finea, to begin a march through the village behind a Colour Party made up of members of the Dublin, Kildare and Meath 1916 Societies, dressed in period Irish Volunteer uniforms. They marched to the spot close to the bridge where Patrick Thompson was shot dead by an RIC Constable on 6th October 1920, where the new memorial has been erected. Among the large crowd were relatives of the late Patrick Thompson.

The Spirit of Irish Freedom Society have fundraised over recent months to erect this fitting memorial to a young man from the Finea area who gave his life for the All-Ireland Republic. As well as this memorial, the Westmeath Society will be unveiling a headstone in Carrick Graveyard, just outside Finea, at the Thompson Family Plot on the anniversary of his death in the month of October.

Proceedings on Sunday were Chaired by Alan McCabe, Castlepollard, from the North Westmeath Dermody/Leavy Cumann. McCabe welcomed everyone to the ceremony and stated that it was a proud day for the Westmeath Society to have such a large crowd present for the unveiling of the memorial in the Centenary Year of the Rising.

The event began with the reading of the The 1916 Proclamation by Kevin McCabe, Kells. The chairperson then called on their special guest, former IRA Hungerstriker Tommy McKearney from County Tyrone, to unveil the new memorial. There then was a recitation of a poem ‘Here We Stand’ by Bellivor writer James Linnane, who wrote the piece especially for the occasion. A reading of the Westmeath IRA Roll of Honour, that includes Patrick Thompson, was then carried out by Gerry Farrell, Moate.

There then was a Wreathlaying Ceremony, with wreaths being laid by: Catherine O’Reilly, Castletown, Finea, on behalf of the relatives of Vol. Patrick Thompson. Next, a wreath was laid on behalf of the North Westmeath Dermody/Leavy Cumann by Bernard Flood, Castlepollard. Another was laid on behalf of the South Westmeath Sloane/Tormey Cumann by Peter McCormack, Moate. Then Peter Burt, Ballyjamesduff, laid one on behalf of the Cavan 1916 Society. The final wreath was laid on behalf of the 1916 Societies by the National Organiser Paul Scannell, Dunderry.

To end the Wreathlaying Ceremony, local musician, James McInerney, played a rendition of ‘The Foggy Dew’ on the violin.

The history of the death of Vol. Patrick Thompson in the village that night was then given by Peter Rogers, Rathowen:

Patrick Thompson joined the Irish Volunteers in 1918 and was a member of the local Finea Company. The Finea Company worked in close collaboration with the famous North Longford Flying Column led by General Sean McEoin.

Then, on the evening of 6th October 1920, a member of the RIC named Henry Corbett, who lived locally but was stationed in nearby Kilnaleck, was seen drinking in the village of Finea. He was seen acting in an agitated manner and brandishing his weapon in front of customers in Fitzgerald’s Public House. The local Volunteers were informed of his activity so they decided to ambush him on his way home and relieve him of his weapon.

Vol. Patrick Thompson was instructed by his superiors to monitor Corbett’s movements while he was in the village and that a number of armed Volunteers would join him later to carry out the ambush. Before they arrived in the village, Thompson witnessed Constable Corbett leaving the public house and followed him down the village in the direction of the bridge. In an effort to stall him until the armed Volunteers arrived, Thompson decided to confront the policeman but as he approached Corbett he drew his weapon and fired three shots at Vol. Thompson, killing him instantly.

Constable Corbett left the scene of the incident immediately, going directly to the RIC Station in Kllnaleck. When the armed Volunteers eventually arrived in the village, as it was very dark, they did not see any sign of the RIC man and also failed see Patrick Thompson’s body lying dead on the ground at Connolly’s yard. His body was found by a passerby early the next morning.

James McInerney then played a rendition of the slow air ‘Buachaill Óg’ on the violin. Then there was a minute’s silence and a lowering of flags by the Colour Party, as a mark of respect to the memory of Vol. Patrick Thompson.

The Chair then introduced Tommy McKearney to give the main oration, in which he saluted the courage of men like Vol. Patrick Thompson, whom he said unselfishly gave their lives for the freedom of Ireland that had been declared on the steps of the General Post Office one hundred years ago in Dublin. He also explained his deep disappointment that on a day when we unveil a memorial to a young Irish republican in Finea, the powers that be in Dublin unveiled a wall carrying the names of Black and Tans and other agents of the British Empire, the RIC, alongside our Republican Patriots in Glasnevin Cemetery.

He stated that it was disingenuous in the extreme for a government in Dublin to portray to the public, one hundred years on from the Rising, that it was for a 26-County state that men like Patrick Thompson gave their lives. He claimed their ambivalence and lack of commitment to a true 32-County Irish Republic was also helping to foster divisions among all the people on this island, as the British have done for centuries.

He went on to outline the difference in how the anniversary of the 1916 Rising was covered in 1966 in comparison to the happenings this year on RTE. He took exception to the word ‘Rebellion’ being used to highlight what happened in Dublin in 1916. He believed it was being conveniently used by revisionists to misrepresent what really happened one hundred years ago. In 1966 RTE used the word ‘Insurrection’ for its production. Insurrection is what it really was, as the people of Ireland had given no allegiance to British rule either then or at any time.

He explained how the word ‘Rebellion’ would be widely used to describe some type of event against a legitimate authority and Britain has no legitimate authority in Ireland. He used the analogy of the charge put against William Wallace in the film Braveheart, where the charge of treason was put to Wallace and he replied, ‘how can I be treasonable to someone I never gave allegiance to in the first place?’ He concluded by thanking the organisers of the ceremony for his invitation to speak and to be given the honour of unveiling the new memorial.

In conclusion, Alan McCabe thanked all who had attended the ceremony, especially the relatives of Patrick Thompson. The ceremony ended with James McInerney playing Amhrán na bhFiann.

No comments