On Thursday April 23, Cumann Seanchais Cloch na gCoillte organised a wreath laying and reading ceremony at Knockskeagh crossroads, near Clonakilty, to mark the 99th anniversary of the march of the Lyre Company in 1916.
Tim Crowley has supplied the following information on the march in 1916.
Between four and five o’clock on Easter Sunday morning, April 23, 1916, eighteen members of the Lyre Company Irish Volunteers gathered at Knockskeagh Crossroads, a few miles north of Clonakilty. Their mission was to march to Inchigeela, via Dunmanway, to collect some of the consignment of rifles which Roger Casement had sent over from Germany on board the ship ‘The Aud’.
On that frosty morning most of the volunteers were on foot. A few had bicycles and their O/C Jim Walsh brought along his horse and cart. On board the cart were one or two rifles, shotguns and some croppy pikes.
The Volunteers had Mass in Dunmanway, said by Cannon Magner, who was later shot during the War of Independence. Then, with the Dunmanway Volunteers, the Lyre Company set off for Inchigeela.
One of the Dunmanway men, Michael McCarthy played the bagpipes along the way. He would later be shot in Kilmichael Ambush. The Volunteers arrived at Inchigeela before 3pm and were addressed by Tomás MacCurtain and Terence MacSwiney who informed the men that the arms ship ‘the Aud’ had been detained by the British Navy off the coast of Kerry and that the arms weren’t coming in.
It was the early hours of Easter Monday morning before the Volunteers got home to the Lyre area, shortly before the 1916 Rebellion began in Dublin. On May 5, eight members of the Lyre Company were arrested by the RIC and Military and they spent some months in jail in Cork, Dublin and Wakefield prison, Yorkshire. The O/C of the Lyre Company, Jim Walsh and Peter O’Donovan were later sent to jail in Frongoch in Wales.
If the arms off ‘The Aud’ had been landed, the action of the 1916 Rebellion would have been much more widespread, not just confined largely to the Dublin area. There is no doubt that the Lyre Volunteers would have been caught up in it but it is impossible to guess how many of them would have survived.