Tribute to tragic activist George Brown at memorial

New Ross Standard, Wednesday July 02 2008

ST. MARY'S Church in Inistioge was the venue on Friday evening for the launch of the George Brown Memorial Weekend.

George Brown, a Manchester working-class activist, whose parents came from Inistioge and Tullogher, was killed in action in defence of the Spanish Republic at the Battle of Brunete on July 7, 1937.

On this historic occasion, the assembly was joined by two very distinguished guests, Jack Jones and Bob Doyle, both Spanish Civil War Veterans.

Bob Doyle opened proceedings with the launch of a commemorative booklet on George Brown. The lecture on the night was by Head of Research with SIPTU, Manus O'Riordan, on George Brown and the Spanish Civil War.

Saturday was an even more eventful day, starting with a lecture on the Spanish Civil War by Spanish Civil War Historian, Harry Owens.

At this assembly, which was chaired by Jack O'Connor, President of SIPTU, Jack Jones and Bob Doyle were presented with hurls and sliothars by GAA legend Eddie Keher. Eddie and his sister Eileen O'Brien along with the Lackey family of Ballyneal, are the closest Irish relatives of the Brown family.

This was followed by a most moving ceremony in the adjoining graveyard with the unveiling by Jack Jones of the George Brown Memorial Plaque.

There were a number of other very special moments during this ceremony; the recital of the poem Where will we find you George Brown' by Sarah Tobin, a relative of George Brown, a stirring rendition of The Internationale' by the Graiguenamanagh Brass Band and a passionate delivery by Marlene Sideway, Secretary of the International Brigade Memorial Trust, of La Pasionaria's farewell address to the International Brigades at Barcelona on October 27, 1938.

This ceremony was chaired by Waterford playwright, Jim Nolan, with the keynote address given by Committee Secretary, Seán Walsh, and the oration delivered by Jimmy Kelly, Regional Secretary and Assistant General Secretary of UNITE. The unveiling was followed by a memorial at Woodstock Gardens, which was chaired jointly by Seán Kelly of T&G/UNITE as Project Co-ordinator, and by Committee Vice-Chairperson, Jim Walsh.

A tree was planted by Jack Jones to mark the occasion of his visit to Inistioge. The large attendance was entertained by the Hatchery Folk Ensemble' with a selection of Irish dance music and a moving rendition of Vive la Quinte Brigada'. In addition, a number of Irish airs were played by Brenda O'Riordan on the concert harp.

Replica copper busts of George Brown, mounted on elm, were presented on behalf of the Committee to a number of people associated with the weekend.

Back for more reports on the weekend