by ehistoryadmin on August 9, 2023

Leinster Leader 8 November 1969

Hundreds view Wolfe Tone grave damage

Bodenstown churchyard was the attraction for a steady stream of visitors on Sunday who came to view the damage to the memorial over the grave of the patriot, Theobald Wolfe Tone.

The desecration took place in the early hours of Friday but the damage was not discovered until about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. A noise awakened people within a radius of a mile of the cemetery about 5 o’clock on Friday morning but it was not until the afternoon that Miss Josephine Connolly, Sallins, paying visit to her mother’s grave discovered the damage to the monument.

Gardai under Supt. T. P. Corbett, Naas, went immediately to the cemetery and found fragments of one of the headstones scattered over a wide area, although the wrought iron railings surrounding the grave were undamaged.

The family stone erected in the 18th century, bearing the names of the patriot’s parents and three of the family, was shattered and the six-foot memorial to Wolfe Tone was uprooted by the explosion. It had been erected early in this century by the Kildare Gaelic Association and renovated by the National Graves association in 1945. It was re-lettered in 1950.

On Friday night, the Secretary of the National Graves Association, Mr. Sean Fitzpatrick, said that the Association would have the damage repaired and have the place once more as a fitting tribute to the memory of the father of the Irish Republic.

The genera; suspicion that the perpetrators of the sabotage were Northern extremists was confirmed at the week-end when the illegal U.V.F. organisation boasted that it was responsible.

On the proposition of Mr. T. G. Dowling, Naas Urban Council on Tuesday night unanimously adopted a resolution viewing “with sorrow and abhorrence the desecration of the grave of the renowned family and the great patriot, Wolfe Tone. We know all the creeds and classes in this district and county join with us in this protest.”

Mr. Dowling said that Bodenstown was not in the Urban area but it was not too far removed from it. Naas was the nearest urban area to it and he though they should protest. Mr. P. J. Fitzsimons, seconding, agreed that it was only right that the Urban Council should protest. The blowing up of national monuments was an intrusion in our affairs here and should be resented.

Emergency Meeting

An emergency meeting of County Kildare Branch of the National Graves Association in the Town hall, Naas, unanimously adopted a resolution “condemning in the strongest possible terms the desecration of what Pearse terms the shrine of Irish nationalism”.

It was decided to suggest to the National Executive of the Association that a special commemoration be held on the Sunday following the anniversary of Tone’s death – November 19 – for the launching of the National Recreation Fund.

The National Secretary was requested, should the Executive decide against the holding of the special commemoration, to consider the feasibility of holding a national collection for the National Restoration Fund on that date.


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