Thomas Ashe & Tom Kettle
Thomas Ashe & Tom Kettle

Independent candidate in Balbriggan Electoral area, Cathal Boland is calling for the setting up of a Fingal Summer School. This would commemorate the achievements of two North County men, Tom Kettle and Thomas Ashe, who played significant, but different roles in the political situation 100 years ago.
Boland told the County Leader, “I was forcibly struck by the visit of President Higgins to the United Kingdom, some weeks ago, with political representatives from all strains of both British and Irish politics, united in the celebration of that visit. Noting the Queen’s comments of members of her family standing with us in 2016, along with the invitation extended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, I am proposing that the North County should act on the opportunity which these events present, and host an inaugural Summer School in 2016.”

He continued, “It seems to me that such an occasion provides an ideal venue for all traditions and their senior representatives, to commemorate the contributions made in both 1914 and 1916, by Irish men and women. Such an event, away from the main state ceremonies, and those to be held at the GPO, would provide a calmness to allow proper reflection of these historic moments and their relationship to each other,” he said.

In the course of the President’s address in Westminster, he made reference to a man from the North County, the nationalist, poet, parliamentarian and soldier Tom Kettle.

Boland explains, “Kettle came from a family, who were at the épée centre of the politics of nationalist Ireland, whose father was a founder of the Land League. He was elected an Nationalist MP, he founded the Peace Committee during the 1913 Lockout, co-founded the Irish Volunteers, for whom he travelled to Belgium to purchase guns. When he was there, he acted as a war correspondent. As a result of what he saw, he joined the British Army and was killed in action in September 1916.”

“Thomas Ashe, a Kerry native was the most militarily successful Easter 1916 Commandant. He was a national school principal at Corduff, Lusk. He founded the Black Raven Pipe Band and established a branch of the Volunteers, whom he lead in the Battle of Ashbourne. He went on to be the President of the IRB, the defacto President of the Irish Republic. After the general release in 1917, he went on hunger strike, during which he died as a result of force feeding.”

“Both men were nationalist, one a poet the other a musician. These were men of conscience who made a real contribution. Both died for their beliefs. They just died on different battle fields. These are two great men of vision, of culture, of action, men who wanted the same thing. Both died seeking it in different ways.”

Boland concluded by saying, “Should I be fortunate to be elected on May 23rd, I intend formally calling on the incoming council to establish, and host an annual Kettle Ashe Summer School. This would be a fitting tribute to these great men, while providing a perfect platform for men and women of all traditions to join together in celebration of the role that Fingal played in both struggles. Such an occasion embraces all traditions and allows all to recognise the contribution made a hundred years ago.”