Relatives gather to commemorate Irish-American hero, Michael Conroy

Family, relatives, and friends of Irish-American hero, Michael Conroy, are travelling from the United States, Britain, and across Ireland to attend the special commemoration for the Claremorris born Station Tender who gave up his life in a brave effort to rescue stranded fellow miners in the Speculator Granite Mountain Mine Disaster in Butte, Montana, USA.

Michael, along with Peter Sheridan from Monaghan, was burned to death in the vain heroic attempt to rescue miners who were trapped deep into the copper mine shaft. In what was deemed as the worst hard rock mining calamity in US mining history, 168 men lost their lives, many of whom were native Irish.

To commemorate the heroic endeavours of Michael Conroy and Peter Sheridan and those who died in the tragedy, a special ceremony will be held in Barnacarroll Church, Claremorris (Michael’s native parish ), with a memorial Mass on Friday next June 9 at 7.30pm, followed by the unveiling of a replica of the memorial stone as erected in Michael’s memory at Holy Cross Cemetery, Butte.

A welcome function has been arranged for the relatives to meet at the adjacent community centre. Display boards will feature a selection of documents and photos of family memorabilia and from the mine site in Butte. The Gold Medal for bravery posthumously awarded to Michael Conroy will be presented by his grandson, Michael during the Mass ceremony. Local schools are involved researching further into the incident and producing the Mass booklet.

The commemoration ceremonies coincide with a number of events planned in Butte, which includes the staging of a dedicated musical – No Greater Love - featuring the Irish heroes caught up in the disaster. Jerry O’Sullivan the producer of the musical was a recent visitor to Claremorris and called to the local Gaelscoil to talk about the mine disaster centenary events planned in Butte, his home city. He showed the pupils a print version of the specially commissioned painting by Newry native Stephen Madden entitled 'The Maid of the Mine', and the specially minted commemorative coin. In addition to the Fire and Brimstone book written on the subject, another title, A Darkness Lit by Heroes by Doug Ammons, will soon be published. For further information contact Antoinette Keane on (087 ) 9290835 or Jarlath Sweeney on (087 ) 2439239.

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