Bandon remembers ‘the boy Allen’

Posted on: 13th November, 2017

Category: The History Corner

Contributor: West Cork People

The 150th anniversary of the Manchester Martyrs falls this month. On November 23,1867, a crowd, estimated at 10,000, gathered outside Salford Gaol in Manchester to witness the execution of three men who would go down in Irish history as The Manchester Martyrs. History graduate Pauline Murphy takes a look at the aftermath of the execution, including commemorations and monuments both here in West Cork and further afield.

In the old Kilbrogan Cemetery in Bandon there is a grave that holds no corpse. Instead in this old resting place there is a Celtic cross with the following inscription:

‘In memory of the boy Allen


Larkin and O’Brien

Who were executed in

November 23rd 1867

God Save Ireland

Erected by Allen’s fellow

This memorial cross was unveiled following a march through the town of 3,000 ‘mourners’ who followed a ‘coffin’ to Kilbrogan Cemetery. It was a strong public display of support for ‘the boy Allen’, Larkin and O’Brien – three Fenians wrongfully put to death and buried in an unmarked grave in England.

Michael O’Brien from Ballymacoda in East Cork, Michael Larkin from Offaly and William Allen from Bandon were executed on November 23,1867 following an ambush on a police van carrying two Fenian prisoners. During the attempt to break out the Fenians, a policeman was fatally shot. Larkin, Allen and O’Brien were among the 30 men involved; many whom were apprehended in the aftermath of what the British press dubbed ‘The Manchester Outrage’. Though Larkin, Allen nor O’Brien fired the fatal shot, the three men would be the ones to face the hangman’s noose.

Many considered it a botched trial and the execution of Larkin, Allen and O’Brien drew reactions from all quarters of the globe. The famed left-wing philosophers Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, who were living in Manchester at the time, corresponded with each other regarding the Martyrs. Marx informed Engels that his wife Jenny wore “black and her Polish cross on a green ribbon”. Engels replied, “I need hardly tell you that black and green are the prevailing colours in my house too!”

Others who condemned the hangings were philosopher John Stuart Mill – he called for clemency for the men – and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, who later wrote in her biography that the executions were an utter mistake.

Public reaction in Ireland resulted in mock funerals being held across many towns and villages. Monuments were erected in places such as Rath Cemetery in Tralee, Birr, Kilrush and Clonmel. Monuments to the Manchester Martyrs were also unveiled in Miltown Cemetery Belfast, Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, Limerick city and East Cork.

In 1898 a Celtic cross was erected to the Manchester Martyrs in St Joseph’s Cemetery in Manchester, which would become a focal point of annual commemorations, as well as disturbances between Irish immigrants and those of a loyalist persuasion.

Commemorations, held in the guise of a funeral procession, were held in Liverpool, Sheffield and Birmingham. In London a crowd of over 3,000 followed three empty coffins, wrapped in black crepe and green flags, through the English capital.

On the day following the executions in Manchester a massive display of public support for the Martyrs was shown in New York City. Thousands followed a funeral procession including the City Mayor John T. Hoffman. Similar scenes played out in Boston and Chicago, while Philadelphia saw thousands of mainly Irish immigrants ignore the wishes of the Bishop to stay away from a mock funeral; a five-hour procession ended on the steps of the courthouse with fiery speeches against British imperialism.

Perhaps the most intriguing reaction to the executions of Larkin, Allen and O’Brien occurred on the far side of the world, in a small mining town populated by Irish immigrants. On March 8, 1868, some four months after the executions, up to 700 people followed a Manchester Martyrs funeral procession to the local cemetery of Hokitika in New Zealand. Mostly Irish people had settled the small township, on the west coast of New Zealand’s south island, in the early 1860s, when gold was discovered there.

Hundreds followed local PP Father William Larkin and John Manning, the editor of pro-Fenian newspaper The New Zealand Celt, as they marched in memory of the Martyrs to the local cemetery. When they arrived there they found the gates locked but a local miner with a pick in hand made swift work of the lock, and the funeral proceeded. The local constabulary paid little attention.

Manning planted a Celtic cross with the names of the Manchester Martyrs inscribed on it, which he had been carrying, in the middle of the cemetery. Speeches were made, prayers were said and the day ended with the singing of God Save Ireland.

A few weeks later seven people were arrested in Hokitikat, including Fr Larkin and Manning. Their crime was ‘unlawful assembly’ and a trial followed. The West Coast Times of May 30, 1868 reports how “a procession went to Hokitikat Cemetery, into which they effected a forcible entry for the purpose of planting a Celtic cross in memory of the men recently executed in Manchester…”

The seven men were found guilty and fined but Fr Larkin and Manning also received one months’ imprisonment. Fr Larkin, a native of Galway, would later leave New Zealand and settle in Chicago in the 1880s; Manning also left for America after his release from prison where he worked as a journalist. Both men continued to support the Fenian movement and attended annual Manchester Martyrs commemorations stateside.

Here in Ireland, and especially here in West Cork, commemorations continue on an annual basis to remember Micheal O’Brien, William Allen and Michael Larkin. This year, the 150th anniversary will be marked in towns across Ireland and especially in Bandon for ‘the boy Allen’.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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