On Sunday October 31 Westmeath Republican Sinn Féin, marked the 90th anniversary
of the execution on November 2 1920 of James Daly who was one of the leaders of the Connaught Rangers’ mutiny in India. The mutiny was in reaction to the war being waged by the British government on the people of Ireland.
At 2.pm the parade led by a colour party and a lone piper marched from the Village Hotel min Tyrellspass to the cemetery. There the ceremony was chaired by Seosamh Ó Maoiléoin. He began by outlining the events of 1920 in Ireland in the lead up to the execution of James Daly including the death on hunger strike of the Lord Mayor of Cork Terence MacSwiney and the execution of Kevin Barry. He welcomed the niece of James Daly, Veronica Dunne, Tullamore and his grand nephews and grand nieces.
Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Daly and Maher families by Cathal Maher, Tommy Morris laid a wreath on behalf of the Republican Movement in Westmeath and Celia Conway laid a wreath on behalf of the Republican Movement.
The piper then played a lament.
In his oration the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton said:
“The moral courage and sacrifice shown by James Daly and his comrades shines like a beacon light 90 years after those momentous events in Jullander and Solon in India in June and July of 1920. The leadership shown by James Daly and Joe Hawes galvanised their comrades into striking a blow for the freedom of their own land. We also remember with pride the sacrifices of Peter Sears and Patrick Smythe who died at the hands of the British army during the mutiny and who are interred in Glasnevin cemetery.
“The November 1970 edition of An Phoblacht summed up the mutiny and its place in history: ‘The men under the command of Private Hawes were as brave and as true to Ireland as any of the Wild Geese who had served in the Continental armies. Indeed they were braver because they were on their own against the full might and power of an empire. Their deed will be remembered for ever because it brought glory and fame to the land of their birth for which these men were prepared to give their all.’
“In 1920 Ireland was locked in a full scale war against the British Empire, in response to the democratic vote of the people of All-Ireland for full independence the British Government unleashed the Black-and-Tans and the Auxiliaries on the Irish people, the Lord Mayors of Cork and Limerick were murdered, towns such as Granard in Co Longford and Balbriggan in Co Dublin along with the centre of Cork city were burned by British forces. Almost 5,000 miles away in India Irishmen serving with the British army’s Connaught Rangers decided to take stand in defence of their own small nation.
“The British Government censored any news reaching Ireland or internationally.
They feared the fall-out, which would result from news of a mutiny within what they boasted , was supposedly the most highly trained and disciplined army in the world.
“In its aftermath the British army attempted to dismiss the cause of the mutiny to be merely relating to issues of conditions and discipline. However the actions of the men in hoisting the flag of the All-Ireland Republic in both Solon and Jullunder gave the lie to this. Thomas Kilfeather in his history of the Connaught Rangers gives a vivid description: ‘A remarkable thing happened in Jullunder barracks. From a flag-staff floated the Irish Tricolour, placed there by Frank Geraghty, of Castleblaney, Co Monaghan. He and Patrick Kelly, from Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath, had walked to the trading village, or bazaar, where they bought lengths of silk in green, white and orange. They stitched the silken material into a flag, six feet by four feet, and triumphantly hoisted it to an improvised staff on the roof of the bungalow. As the flag hung limply in the still air, a deep-throated cheer came from four hundred mutineers, and when the officers looked out from the verandah of their mess they became that the unthinkable had happened – the mutiny had now become impossible to control.
‘In the cantonment (military quarters), the Indian troops, who had been passive spectators of the extraordinary events of the day, gazed at this strange flag which had supplanted the Union Jack – the flag that was the symbol of their country’s occupation.’ The actions of the Connaught Rangers were a blow against colonialism and as An Phoblacht speculated that for the Indian soldiers the sight of the Irish Tricolour might be for them ‘a portent of great significance in the onward march towards freedom of their own people.”
“Of the 14 men sentenced to death for their part in the mutiny al bar one were commuted to life imprisonment. On November 2 1920 James Daly was executed by firing squad at Dagshai prison. In his final letter to his mother he assured her of his willingness to face death ‘its all for Ireland’. The rest of the mutineers were transported to England where they were held in harsh conditions until January 1923.
“Today the same ideals which led James Daly and his comrades to take on the might of the British Empire in India 90 years ago continues to inspire yet another generation of Irish people to resist the forces of British occupation. The British Government have yet to absorb the lesson of Irish history. As long as they lay claim and title to any part of Ireland they will be met with resistance.
“The single-minded determination and moral courage shown by James Daly and his comrades is an example to all revolutionaries who are earnest in the pursuit of their aims. As Irish Republicans we are conscious of the proud tradition we inherit but also of the weighty responsibility to ensure that we do not lose sight of the goal of the 23-County Democratic Socialist Republic. Republican Sinn Féin provide the leadership and the programme, which can turn the aspiration for a free Ireland into a reality.
“Let us prove equal to the task before us for the most fitting monument we can erect to James Daly and all of the Irish patriots who have laid down their lives in the cause of Irish freedom is the re-establishment of the All-Ireland Republic of Connolly, Pearse and Tone. It is then of the ballad of ‘The Devil’s Own’ written in Dagshai prison will be realised: ‘And when Ireland gets her freedom, we may go safely home, But we’ll ne’er forget that gallent crowd they call the “The Devil’s Own”’.”