A Special Report
UNVEILING OF the refurbished graves of Sligo's Noble Six will take place this weekend.
Mayor of Sligo, David Cawley, has been invited to do honours at 3pm on Sunday in Sligo Cemetery.
The six who are honoured are:-Brigadier Seamus Devins;
Division Adjutant Brian MacNeill;
Captain Harry Benson;
Lieutenant Paddy Carroll;
Volunteer Tommy Langan;
Volunteer Joseph Banks.
Estates in Cranmore, built shortly after the 50th anniversary of the incident, are named in honour of the Noble Six.
They were killed by the (Irish) Army on Ben Bulben in September 1922.
Some were executed as prisoners after their capture and while being taken back down the mountain, say historians, including Professor Michael Hopkinson of Stirling University in Scotland.
Those executed bodies were not found for some time.
The Army also stole jewellery from some of those killed. This was returned 25 years later, according to the biography of the Army leader in the region.
The memoriam card (see main photo above) for the Six states their IRA rank. They all belonged to the 3rd Western Division of the IRA.
The Army and Cumann an nGaedhael (Fine Gael) government of the time referred disparagingly to these and others who opposed the Anglo Irish Treaty as ''Irregulars.''Brought Back
The song 'Sligo's Noble Six' says "....they lie in Sligo Cemetery proud and peaceful side by side......'"
However, the Six are not all buried there. Brian MacNeill was brought back to Dublin at the insistence of his father, who was a member of the government which had hunted down his son.
MacNeill's mother, on the other hand, strongly opposed the Treaty. From the 50th Commemoration in 1972
Not recorded in local history books but mourners and friends of the Six who went to Sligo General Hospital in 1922 -- where remains had been removed -- were spat at by the Army.
Not surprisingly, opinion was deeply polarised after the event and for many later decades.Local Priests
For example, in those decades, Fine Gael election platforms were sometimes chaired by local priests, while the anti Treatyites -- many of whom joined the new Fianna Fail party -- were branded, by the Army and government (and the Church) as variants of Bolshies, Reds and Commies.
The smear was only briefly successful and backfired in spectacular fashion when Fianna Fail won its first general election, in 1932.Cup in Memory
There were many discordant public notes after the Ben Bulben incidents and especially prior to Fianna Fail coming to power.
Most notably, Feis Shligigh was born when the established Sligo Feis Ceoil refused to accept a cup in memory of Brigadier Seamus Devins of Grange, the leading IRA officer killed in the 1922 incident.
Sligo Corporation, now the Borough Council, was a prime supporter of the new Feis Shligigh.
Main organisers of the 50th anniversary event in 1972 (see photo of programme) included the late Sean McManus, Mayor of Sligo, and the late Sean Carroll, President of Feis Shligigh.
Their sons John McManus and Kevin Carroll are among current Trustees of the Republican Plot in Sligo Cemetery organising Sunday afternoon's ceremony.
The 90th anniversary of the killings and executions is next Thursday, September 20th.SligoToday.ie
will re-examine controversial aspects of the events -- for which the Army has never apologised -- later this month.