HISTORY MADE IN COOTEHILL AS PEACE GARDEN OPENED TO COMMEMORATE WWI SOLDIERS

23 November 2012 No Comments by The Northern Standard

BY MICHAEL MCDONNELL
michael@northern-standard.ie

History was made in Cootehill on Sunday afternoon last when poppies were worn with pride and dignity by many of those in attendance as a large crowd gathered to witness the opening of a new Peace Garden to pay a permanent tribute to soldiers from both sides of the Border who lost their lives in the First World War, other wars and in the service of peace for the United Nations.
The well-organised event, which was organised by the Tanagh branch of the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen and Women (ONET) in conjunction with the Cavan Co Council Peace III Programme, the Phoenix Organisation Northern Ireland, and the Inniskilling Fusiliers, was marked by a parade and pageantry tempered with a sense of dignity and pride as the representatives of the various military brigades from both Northern Ireland and the Republic made their contribution to proceedings.
The significance of the occasion was underlined by the presence of over 60 former Northern Ireland-based ex-army personnel (of the Royal Inniskillings) — something many would have regarded as unthinkable only a few years ago.
The official opening of the tastefully appointed new Peace Garden in the foreground of the old Cootehill courthouse followed the annual Mass for deceased members of the Tanagh branch and of the Defence Forces in general in St Michael’s Church, Cootehill.
Fr Owen Collins, PP, Cootehill was assisted by Fr Sean McDermott, Defence Forces Chaplain in that ceremony, which included exceptional and stirring music from St Joseph’s Brass Band, Strabane that earned a genuine round of applause at the end of the Mass.
A large crowd subsequently walked the short distance to the courthouse for the official opening of the new garden, where the gathering of dignitaries was led by Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Mr Paul Kehoe and included TDs Heather Humphreys, Joe O’Reilly, Brendan Smith, the chairpersons and members of Cootehill Town Council and Cavan Co Council, Cavan County Manager Jack Keyes, and former TD Dr Rory O’Hanlon.
The central plaque in the new garden said it was dedicated to the memory of all who gave their lives in past wars and in the service of the UN. At the outset of the opening ceremony, Mr Jimmy Martin, former secretary of the Tanagh branch of ONET, said it was fitting to gather in memory of those who had given so much, not only in times of peace, but in terms of defence and sacrifice in times of war.
The idea for the Peace Garden had come about when two members of the branch …

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