In keeping with its programme of commemorations this year, the Meelick-Parteen and Cratloe Commemoration Committee will unveil a memorial at Knockalisheen, Meelick to honour the memory of Robert ‘Bobby’ Byrnes.
Although Robert Byrnes was from Limerick City and was an officer in the 2nd Battalion Mid-Limerick Brigade, he was rescued from the Union Workhouse at Shelbourne Road (nowadays better known as St. Camilus’ Hospital) by Limerick City Volunteers on Sunday 6th April 1919. In the course of the rescue however, Byrnes was shot at point blank range by one of the RIC men guarding him.
He was brought to Knockalisheen in a dying state and treated in John and Margaret Ryan’s farmhouse. Robert Byrnes died on the evening of Monday 7th April 1919 and was later buried at Mount St. Lawrence Graveyard in Limerick on Thursday 10th April 1919.
The funeral of Robert Byrnes was also unique in that the man in charge of the funeral cortège was Michael Brennan of Meelick, O/C of the East Clare Brigade, although Byrnes was an officer of the Mid-Limerick Brigade.
Robert Byrnes was the first man to die in the cause of Irish freedom following the outbreak of the War of Independence in January 1919.
The official unveiling of the Robert Byrnes memorial at Knockalisheen, Meelick will take place this Easter Sunday (5th April 2015) at 1pm. An oration will be given by renowned Limerick historian Tom Toomey followed by a wreath laying ceremony. This will be very much a community event and all are welcome on the day.
The Meelick-Parteen and Cratloe Commemoration Committee includes Tom Toomey, Pádraig Ó Ruairc, Cathal Crowe, Johnny White, Eamon O’Halloran, Jody O’Connor, Tom Gleeson, Pat McDonagh and Ger Hickey.