Among those who attended the mountainside ceremony was Malachy McCreesh whose brother, Raymond, died on hunger-strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh in 1981.
Liam Lynch was born in Barnagurraha, County Limerick, in 1893, and spent his youth in that county, living with his parents, three brothers and a sister.
At the age of 17, he went to work in Mitchelstown in County Cork, where he later joined the Irish Volunteers after their formation in 1913. From being First Lieutenant, he rose to the rank of O/C of the First Southern Division, commanding IRA units across Munster, during the Tan War.
After the signing of the Treaty, which he opposed, Lynch was appointed Chief of Staff of the IRA.
Despite Liam Lynch’s best efforts over several months to maintain the unity of the Army, Free State forces using British artillery attacked the Republican garrison in Dublin’s Four Courts in a deliberate act designed to foment a bitter Civil War.
The Free State government and its forces showed no mercy against those who stood firm behind the Republic and many Republican graves across Munster bear testimony to that fact.
On April 10, 1923, Liam Lynch was shot and seriously wounded as he scaled the Knockmealdown mountains with his comrades in an attempt to escape encirclement by over 1,000 Free State soldiers engaged in a countrywide sweep of south Tipperary and Waterford. Captured by the Free Staters, he was taken to Clonmel where he died almost twelve hours later from his wounds.
In accordance with his last dying wish, Liam Lynch was buried beside his friend and comrade, Michael Fitzgerald, who died on hunger strike in Cork gaol in October 1920.
éirígí’s Rúnaí Ginearálta Breandán Mac Cionnaith delivered the main oration at Sunday’s commemoration, during which he said:
“Liam Lynch and many like him were born into an Ireland which, just a few decades earlier, had experienced the unprecedented ravages of An Gorta Mór – The Great Hunger. Between 1845 and 1850, approximately 1.5 million Irish men, women and children died of starvation or related diseases. By 1855, almost two million others had fled Ireland to avoid a similar fate.
“It was an Ireland completely under foreign occupation where the nation’s wealth was controlled by a minority landowning aristocracy loyal to Britain; an Ireland where families were evicted from their homes at the point of British bayonets.
“It was also an Ireland where people like O’Donovan Rossa and others in the IRB sought to organise and fight for freedom. It was an Ireland where a widespread popular resistance in the form of the Land League had been organised to effectively oppose the unjust economic system of that time. An Ireland which, by the end of the 19th century, was again attempting to rebuild and reclaim its cultural heritage through organisations such as the GAA and Conradh na Gaeilge.
“People like Liam Lynch saw the injustice caused by the British occupation of their country and by the unjust exploitation of this country’s resources and its people by a small minority and decided to act.”
Mac Cionnaith also pointed out that it was important to reflect on the ideals which motivated Liam Lynch and many Republicans like him.
Mac Cionnaith said that Lynch and his comrades had stood fully behind those objectives set out in the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of 1919 for national self-determination, for social and economic justice and democracy, of cherishing all the children of the nation equally, of claiming the wealth of Ireland for the people of Ireland.
“Those who fought in 1916, those who fought through the Tan war and who followed the leadership of Liam Lynch in the aftermath of the Treaty and the partition of this country, were men and women of principle; men and women with a vision for a new, equal and free Ireland,” he said.
Alluding to the general strikes, workplace occupations and land seizures which took place across Ireland in the years between 1918 and 1923, Mac Cionnaith continued, “The struggle for independence and national sovereignty also become a revolt of the exploited classes against their domestic oppressors as well. The present-day popular rejection of the Home Tax is, perhaps, an indication that that spirit of revolt still exists but has still to be properly harnessed.
“Today, the total number of unemployed across the 32 counties has reached well over 600,000 people, with thousands of those who are employed facing wage-cuts, and countless families are again struggling to hold on to their homes as the threat of eviction stalks at their doors.
“Thousands of our young people are again being forced abroad as economic migrants.
“Ireland remains partitioned and Britain still remains the occupying power in Six Counties.
“The Ireland of today remains controlled by imperialism, albeit in a new and more subtle form. The livelihoods of Irish people are controlled by external undemocratic capitalist forces which are, in essence, no different to the external undemocratic controlling forces which Liam Lynch and his comrades mobilised against during their life-times.
“The Ireland of today is most certainly not the kind of Ireland which Liam Lynch or any of his comrades had envisaged.”
Liam Lynch, he said, was quite emphatic in his view that those who supported and endorsed the structures of partition had placed themselves firmly in the camp of the counter-revolution.
In reference to the approach of the forthcoming centenary year of the Easter Rising, Mac Cionnaith told his audience that the modern-day forces of counter-revolution will embark upon an unprecedented revisionist propaganda campaign aimed at trying to persuade the public mind that the objectives of 1916 had been successfully secured through partition.
“We must all be prepared to confront and to challenge that revisionist propaganda campaign both north and south.
“We must again educate and inform others, particularly the younger generation, about the true nature of Irish Republicanism; that our struggle is about achieving real political freedom, it is about delivering social justice, it is about economic equality for all. It is about creating a democratic, independent, and sovereign Irish Republic. An Ireland undivided by a British imposed border. An Ireland whose total resources will come under the control of the ordinary working people of this island regardless of gender, religion or race – a truly free Ireland.
“The business of establishing a free, sovereign and independent Irish Republic remains unfinished. The goals and objectives of those who fought, were imprisoned and who were executed remained unfulfilled.
“Settling for anything less than the complete achievement of those Republican objectives was never an option for Liam Lynch who, in his own words, defiantly asserted – ‘We have declared for an Irish Republic and will not live under any other law’.”