The annual Parle, Creane & Hogan Commemoration organised by the Wexford Republican Graves Association was held on March 12, 2017. The oration was delivered by Seán Ó Dubhláin, Ard Chomhairle & National PRO, Sinn Féin Poblachtach, who said:
“Take away the blood stained bandage from off an Irish brow.
We fought and bled for Ireland and will not shirk it now
We have helped her in her struggle, we answered to her call
And because we loved her freedom, we are placed against the wall.” – The Ballad of Parle, Creane and Hogan
Jim Parle, 25 years old from Taghmon. John Creane, 18 from Cloneraine. And Patrick Hogan, 19 years old from William street in Wexford.
What is striking about these Volunteers is their young age. Ireland for centuries has been kept down and oppressed, it is a remarkable trait of our country that despite seemingly been dealt a final blow by English colonialization at various times in history, we never gave up, we always came back. And young men like Parle, Crean and Hogan are testament to that spirit. It is because of such brave young men we are assembled here today, in their memory, it is because of them we say defiantly to our enemies, you will never defeat us. It is because of them we are confident in a final victory, and finally the freedom and sovereignty of Ireland.
Last year we witnessed the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising, in the coming month, Republicans again will commemorate the rising across Ireland. This event was seminal in awakening the spirit of the Irish people. It encouraged the bravery of these young Volunteers.
Last year we witnessed the media, shops, politicians all jump on the bandwagon, profiting whatever way they could from the Centenary celebrations as they were called. Notable, dignified and permanent memorials were erected across Ireland, but by and large this Easter Ireland will fall silent on the significance and legacy of the Easter Rising in 2017.
One result of the Rising, one hundred years ago this year, was that Sinn Féin adopted a totally separatist and republican constitution leading into the 1918 General Election which in turn led to the establishment of the revolutionary First 32 County Dáil Éireann. These are centenaries which will be most uncomfortable for the Free Staters to commemorate, why? Because these events uncover their own illegitimacy and the legitimacy of what Parle, Crean and Hogan stood by. The Republic Proclaimed in 1916 and democratically endorsed the last time Ireland voted as a single unit in 1918, this was the Republic they gave their oath to, they would not compromise on that.
The 1921 Treaty of Surrender which had partitioned Ireland cast our country into as dark a period as any before. The British sponsored counter revolutionary Free State exercised brutal methods in suppressing the Republic.
I.R.A. Volunteers went back into the field on active service, defending all they had fought for since 1919. Parle, Crean and Hogan were part of this resistance. On the night of February 1923 they sought shelter in a safe house. The house was actually owned by an ex-British army Major. But the servant girls unbeknownst to him who worked there were helping the Volunteers. They stayed there for a night but the following evening a Free State soldier who had found out about their whereabouts burst in with a revolver catching five of the Volunteers unaware. They were arrested. A sixth Volunteer, Barney Cosgrove, was outside the building at the time making his way back and was lucky to have a close escape.
The five arrested Volunteers were James Parle, his brother William, John Crean, Murt Walsh and Patrick Hogan. Up to 12,000 Republicans were arrested by the Free State in them years of the counter revolution. The conditions the lads were kept in were poor, in a room with an estimated 40 to 50 other prisoners. On the evening of March 12th, 1923, James, John and Patrick were told they were to be shot at eight o’clock the next morning. According to accounts of the time, a Free State soldier entered the room and shouted this news to the lads.
In his last letter John, stated;
“Tell all, with God’s help and grace, I will die like a true soldier.”
Fr Michael Murphy wrote to John’s Mother on March 15th that year;
“I thought Jack was only a chap but I find he was a man – a great man – a hero; one of those great ones who will live forever in Irish History.”
James ‘Jim’ Parle in his last letter had said;
“…I shall be executed along with two of my gallant comrades at 8 o’clock sharp tomorrow. It is a hard trial for you to bear in your old days, but the knowledge that I am dying for a great and noble cause will help to minimise the grief and anxiety, which you may feel after my death.”
Patrick Hogan, in his last letter at only 19 years of age displayed great humility as did all the men when he said;
“I forgive the men who are carrying this out, as they think they are right, as I thought I was. So my last prayer is to forgive them and God will settle all.”
For true Republicans our oath is to that same all Ireland Republic. It is an uncomfortable existence we have with the partition of Ireland, one we will never accept.
We will not be bound by hatred of what happened in them days of counter revolution, our love of Ireland is greater than that. Educating the public is key. So in the coming years we will and we must in upholding the continuity of struggle unique to us in the Republican Movement remember men like Parle, Crean and Hogan with dignity and the responsibility is to ensure that the Irish people understand the rotten basis upon which this 26 County state was built. We will not accept, believing in the righteousness of our cause anything less than the full freedom of Ireland, for all its people, green, white or orange.
The politic demographics across Ireland will change in the coming years, possibly significantly, with the British Government beginning their withdrawal from the EU this month as Brexit aims to come into effect.
From Westminster the Tory’s now have their answer to Thatcher in Teresa May, they seek to hark back to the days of some oppressive, false & morbid British nationalism. Let them hear us clear, the only withdrawal we care about is their withdrawal from Ireland. This is a demand, and we vow to make that a reality.
The recent Stormont elections expose the inherent and irreconcilable failures of the Belfast Agreement. Those of the Unionist persuasion must be demoralised and frustrated as the very future of what they think is right, the UK, is on the line. This threat to their imperial Union is not just from nationalist Ireland, but from Scotland as well.
To those of a unionist background we say to them, that they are a part of the Irish nation, under ÉIRE NUA republicans propose a federation of the four provinces of Ireland, Ulster will have its own Parliament, as will Connacht, Leinster and Munster. Crucially there will be a new national parliament outside of Dublin, a fresh start with a new Constitution and Charter of Rights to protect and serve every person and citizen living in Ireland.
By working together towards the aim of peace, crucially with justice in a New Ireland we can end the centuries old conflict in Ireland.
But be under no illusions, if the British government insists on staying. We will insist on opposing them. We have always upheld the right to oppose the occupation using any means necessary. Communities have a right to defend themselves. The current rate of RUC/PSNI oppression and abuse doled out daily to the nationalist community will only end in one way. Increased acts of resistance, this reality has seen increased numbers of POWs in recent years, on a smaller level than the past but still highlighting the failure of British rule in Ireland. It must end.
ÉIRE NUA is an entirely positive concept, in a time of uncertainty when we see such poverty among the people and corruption among the politicians, it can be a new dawn. It is needed, right across Ireland.
Republican Sinn Féin wants to build our organisation as a vehicle towards the realisation of ÉIRE NUA. Towards reclaiming Ireland from the bankers, the imperialists and corporations.
We want ownership of all resources and wealth, which belongs rightly to the people. With our great task at hand we must begin anew in many counties, and continue in others building strong local branches across the 32 Counties of Ireland with emphasis on bringing revolutionary republicanism back into our communities.
Again, to the organisers. Thank you for the invitation. I will end with a few lines from the ballad written in memory of the lads;
“Jim Parle from Clover Valley, John Creane from Tagmon
Pat Hogan from old Wexford, a true born Irish son,
They have sprinkled our dear shamrock with their blood for freedom’s day
And before they faced the rifles this is what those boys did say.
Take away the blood-stained bandage from off an Irish brow.
We fought and bled for Ireland and will not shirk it now.”
Leanúnachas agus An Phoblacht Abú.