Lisnabinnia Holocaust Memorial Consecration
Ballyglass, Ballymoe, County Galway
2PM, Sunday, July 2, 2000
Father Conway; Parish Priest, Ballymoe: Officiant
Gratitude to Fr. Conway (and any other clergy present) and to Tom Egan and Family. Today, finally, 150 years after the fact, we assemble here to provide truthful witness to Ireland's Holocaust* of 1845-1850. We affirm the dignity and humanity of the martyrs buried here and repudiate those who disposed of them as sub-humans. We affirm the existence of Lisnabinnia here before us and that of nearby Parkgarve and note that, by 1851, nothing remained of either village but a mass grave. On 28Apr99, Tom Egan of Ballyglass stopped me to ask if I authored the "Mass Graves of Ireland: 1845-1850" pamphlet. Upon my confirming it, he said, "Then there is something I'd like to show you." It turned out to be the Lisnabinnia mass grave. We thus celebrate Tom's integrity. He possesses the character to be troubled by the mass murder once perpetrated here and to remember for life what his equally humane father, Martin (RIP), confided to him.
Locating the Mass Grave.
Father had informed son that, about 1906 when this land was being returned to the people, he and his "ditch"-building gang dug into a mass grave. Rather than offset the "ditch" (sod fence), the ganger decided to continue it across the grave, but dug the sods elsewhere to avoid further uncovering the Dead. Tom doesn't remember his father pointing out the precise spot, but believes it to be located where shown on the map, alongside one of the two bohers off the junction at the karstic pit that drains Killsallagh bog. It was there, "back of beyond" that we intended to erect this memorial. A few days later, as suggested by Glenamaddy Prof. Tom Fahy, I visited the Ordnance Survey offices in Phoenix Park and reviewed the 1840 map of this area. It was a shock to find that an entire village, Lisnabinnia, had existed and was gone by 1851. There being no other houses it had to be the source of the bodies. Because Kilcroan graveyard was less than a half-mile from Lisnabinnia by road, it seemed likely to me that its mass grave would be located within Lisnabinnia and that the only reason for such unconsecrated burial was that the half-mile carry to Kilcroan was too much for the near-dying. Also, during those years thousands of families were cremated in their houses by neighbors who, upon finding them dead would torch the house rather than risk disease. It is possible that the mass grave was such a partly-cremated family, and would thus be at one of Lisnabinnia's houses shown on the map. In any event the weakened villagers would not willingly carry their dead to unconsecrated ground as distant as, but across fences and in opposite direction to, Kilcroan graveyard. Also, the horror of Tom Egan's knowledge could confine itself to a remote corner of memory, suggesting to him a geographically remote mass grave. For these reasons we located the memorial near the houses.
Since its erection further horrifying information has become available, as follows: The Garranlaghan Parish historical record and other sources assert that priests routinely denied Christian burial to Holocaust victims. In 1845, the London gov't enacted a law providing food rations to all of Ireland's Catholic clergy from what its army would seize from the crops of Ireland's Catholics. Thus, Irelands priests, though well-fed, mostly preached "God's Will" to their parishioners targeted for extinction. In refusing to provide the starvelings with Extreme Unction or Christian burial, Ireland's hierarchy not only backed Britain's contention that the Irish were sub-human, but that they lacked a soul and would not enter eternal life. The Lisnabinnia mass grave will be found, perhaps under one of the ditches under Lisnabinnia. But if Tom Egan's contention proves accurate, the bodies will have been carried with difficulty as far to unholy ground as to Kilcroan graveyard. If that occurred it will prove conclusively that Christian burial was denied to them. We pray that the mourners were spared such cruelty. These were the blood relatives of many of us and we affirm today that they were murdered because they were landless and were landless because Britain had robbed them of it.
Prof. Cormac O'Grada's recent book, "Black '47..." quotes "an anonymous Ballymoe source" asserting that, "the famine barely affected Ballymoe parish." By using such a "source" O'Grada spreads the lie that the Holocaust was mild. But for Tom Egan, O'Grada's lie would have prevailed. Today in the heart of Ballymoe parish, on behalf of the murdered of Lisnabinnia and Parkgarve, we denounce O'Grada and his cover-up cabal. A decade ago his "The Great Irish Famine" was lauded by Prof. Christine Kinealy in Fortnight magazine. She gushed, "O'Grada's book essentially demolishes the myth of food leaving Ireland during the famine." Today, this memorial names the two British regiments that starved this district. Yet, the Big Lie reigns supreme in Irish and British academia. Meanwhile, Bishop Jones of Elphin has erected a cover-up "famine" memorial in Roscommon town and he and Bishop Finnegan of Killalla have both sponsored books that cover up the truths that we affirm here today. Why? Is it still too soon to tell the truth? After 150 years?
In the name of the starvelings of Lisnabinnia and Parkgarve whose deaths are marked by this Holocaust memorial unique in its truthfulness, let us go and erect like memorials to the innocents in all three hundred mass graves across Ireland.
* referred to as "Holocaust" in the Cork Examiner in 1847, in Michael Davitt's works published a century ago, and by others of Ireland's conscience. People of intellect and integrity reject the "famine" lie.
Chris Fogarty, Chicago email to email@example.com
© 1995 Fogarty
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