Sunday, October 6, 2013

Robert Emmet Mural Unveiling (1953)

 Unveiling of the Robert Emmett Mural in Ardoyne, 1953:
Rushlight Magazine editor Joe Graham recalls the celebrations around the unveiling:

"My Father Nails His Colours To The Mast

The year 1953 was the 150th anniversary of the Robert Emmet United Irishmen’s Rebellion of 1803 and down the Falls and in Carrick Hill the Irish National Flag, the Tricolour, was being displayed from peoples houses. Over in Ardoyne on a Crumlin Street gable wall a mural was painted to remember Robert Emmet. I recall standing there, I would have been about nine years of age, watching the man paint the mural, no doubt one of the little boys who lived in the street, standing near me was Martin Meehan. My uncle Hughie Mullan’s band, the Sean Healey Memorial Pipe Band, in which he was Drum Major, paraded round the buntings bedecked streets. The Tricolour flew proudly from my grand mother’s house in Jamaica Street in remembrance of the bold Robert Emmet, whose name my grand mother never uttered without adding, ‘The darlin’ Of Erin’.

In Ballymurphy up to this point only Union Jacks had been flown by Loyalists around  periods like the 12th of July, and often enough a man called Billy Savage was arrested and imprisoned for tearing down the Union Jack displayed there at Ballymurphy Road by Arch Loyalist William Mooney, no Tricolour had ever flown in the estate up to this time. However, a milestone was about to be turned, and that occurred when my father displayed the Tricolour on a long flag pole from an upstairs window. During the night hours it was illuminated by two 150 watt electric bulbs affixed to the pole, my father explaining, ‘a flag should never fly in darkness’. Well, while my father, was marking his colours, my mother , Kitty, must have been thinking ‘since we can’t have a pipe band parading round the streets of Ballymurphy we will have the next best thing’. On the day of the Emmet celebrations she had the radiogram lifted out into the garden and all day long rebel records were played, Mr. Mooney, the Orangeman, woke to the strains of “Father Murphy From Boolavogue”, had his breakfast with, “Kevin Barry”, dinner with “Sean Tracey” and supper with “Bold Robert Emmet The Darlin’ Of Erin”. A sub theme for the whole event could just as well have been “Remember Billy Savage.” Needless to say there was a visit to our house by the R.U.C. to protest about the “offensive flying of the Tricolour”, they left rather sheepishly when our Protestant neighbours asked them , “Who is offended, we are not, did you drive all the way up from Springfield Road Barracks to be offended” ?"

GRMA to ArdoyneRepublican for the photos, and Joe Graham for the recollections.


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