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Friday 9 December 2016

New stamp honours Padraig Pearse's famous speech

Rosscarbery Post Mistress Mary Murray with John Whelpley, great-great-gradnson of Jerimiah O'Donovan-Rossa pictured on the occasion of the unveiling of a Stamp marking Pearse's graveside oration for O'Donovan Rossa
Rosscarbery Post Mistress Mary Murray with John Whelpley, great-great-gradnson of Jerimiah O'Donovan-Rossa pictured on the occasion of the unveiling of a Stamp marking Pearse's graveside oration for O'Donovan Rossa

IT has gone down in history as the graveside oration that changed the course of Irish history.

Now, An Post has marked the centenary of Padraig Pearse's legendary eulogy to west Cork-born patriot, Jeremiah O'Donovan-Rossa, with a new stamp.

Many consider Pearse's 1915 tribute at Dublin's Glasnevin cemetery as a critical point in the build-up to the Easter Rising the following year.

The famous oration ended with the stark warning: "They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half…but the fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace."

Pearse's oration, delivered on August 1, caused a sensation and roused Irish republican sentiment.

Devoted

O'Donovan Rossa died in exile in the United States aged 84 having devoted his life to the cause of Irish independence.

His legacy was enormously influential not just on Pearse and other Easter Rising leaders but also for Michael Collins who went on to win the vicious intelligence war against Britain in 1919-21.

Fittingly, the 70c stamp was launched in O'Donovan Rossa's home village of Rosscarbery with his great great grandson, John Whelpley, in attendance.

Rosscarbery now has a unique monument to O'Donovan Rossa, Michael Collins and Tom Barry, all of whom came from the area.

Locals have dubbed the area the 'parish of patriots' such was the contribution to Irish freedom of Rosscarbery, led by the three famous IRA and IRB officials.

Remarkably, Michael Collins was in Rosscarbery on both the first and last days of his life - visiting the village just hours before he was shot and killed at Beal na mBlath.

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