The East Clare Memorial Committee held a poignant ceremony in the townland of Core, Feakle last evening and in so doing, commemorated the last victim of the Irish War of Independence in County Clare, Jim ‘Birdie’ Grogan.
The ceremony, attended by approximately thirty local people, marked the death 100 years ago of, forty-four-year-old Jim Grogan, who was shot dead by British forces, while he was making his way to mass in the Feakle area. Grogan has been largely forgotten and the Committee were determined that they shone a light on his death and on his life.
According to the historian, Dr Tomás Mac Conmara, who is Secretary of the East Clare Memorial Committee and who has researched the story over many years, Jim Grogan was an entirely innocent victim of British aggression:
The British military implied in their reporting of the incident that because Jim Grogan was shot close to where a trench had been dug to impede their forces, that he was a dangerous figure. In fact, Grogan was entirely unarmed and was not of a capable disposition to do harm to anybody. Local reports also strongly indicate that he had his arms raised when he was shot dead. The solider who shot him, was exonerated fully.
The Committee has been responsible for the commemoration of events and people related to the War of Independence for many decades.
Chairman, Cllr Pat Hayes told the Clare Herald that while the Pandemic has restricted the levels of commemoration, the group remained determined to shine a light on events in the period, like the death of Jim Grogan.
“We had a very successful centenary commemoration for the Scariff Martyrs in November 2020 in both Scariff and Killaloe and have had a very strong online presence, which we have used to combat the restrictions resulting from Covid-19. We recently posted material about the Currakyle ambush in my own area and intend to mark the site later in the year when the opportunity to do so are more suitable.
We are really taken with the level of engagement and the support we have received over the last year in particular. We have been doing this, year upon year for many decades and it is wonderful to see a growth in interest over recent times. We felt that it was critical to commemorate Jim Grogan as one of the forgotten victims of that period,” he added.
The Committee arranged for Timmy Treacy, the only surviving relative of Jim Grogan, to lay a wreath at the site of his shooting.
The gathering was addressed by Cllr. Hayes, Mac Conmara and Treacy, before musical laments were played by Maebh McCall, granddaughter of Timmy Treacy and Killanena musician Aoife Hayes.
At the commemoration, Cllr. Pat Hayes announced that they will erect a permanent memorial at the site of Grogan’s death later this year. For more information, visit Scariff Martyrs 100 on Facebook.