Constitution Day, April 18, 1949

On that day 65 years ago, the Government declared Ireland to be a Republic. This did not help Anglo-Irish relations at the time, and it also upset deValera and his Fianna Fáil colleagues, but it was the cause of public celebrations around the country.

The day was Easter Monday and in Galway thousands of people from the city and the surrounding hinterland turned out to join in the nationwide rejoicing of the birth of the Republic of Ireland.

The celebrations began with a solemn Mass in the Pro-Cathedral which was presided over by the bishop. Only a small fraction of the crowd were able to gain admittance. A guard of honour of the FCA stood to attention with fixed bayonets in front of the Sanctuary. “As a bugler sounded the General Salute at the Elevation, the wonderful significance of the great occasion was borne upon the mind and many must have realised, perhaps for the first time, the long distance we have travelled from the Mass Rock of our ancestors.”

After the Mass, a parade of the old IRA, Cumann na mBan, FCA, Knights of Malta, and the Red Cross, accompanied by the Renmore Piper’s Band, The St Patrick’s Brass and Reed band, and the Labour Fife and Drum Band marched through the principal streets of the city and past a saluting stand at Eyre Square where Michael Donnellan TD, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, took the salute.

The 1916 Proclamation was read by Professor Liam O Briain, UCG, after which the Last Post was sounded in memory of the Republican dead, followed by the reveille heralding the new-born Republic and the ceremonies closed with the playing of the National Anthem.

Among those on the stand were Professor Mitchell, registrar, UCG; Colonel J Timoney O/C, first battalion; Mr JW Mongan TD representing the Taoiseach; Mr RT Curley, representing the Galway Chamber of Commerce; Mr H St J Blake, county divisional director, Red Cross; Professor S Shea UCG; Seán Uasal Mac Giollarnáith DJ; Mr WP Cahill, DJ; Mr GM Counihan, county registrar; Mr CI O’Flynn, county manager; Mr S Gillan, town clerk; Rev M Spelman CF; chief superintendant HV Mcmanus GS; superintendant J O’Neill GS; Mr Seán Hosty; Mr Seamus O’Reilly; Mr Martin Newell; Mr J McElhinney; commandant S O’Connor, area officer, West Galway FCA; captain JR King, O/C, Clifden District FCA.

The members of the Corporation on the stand were the Mayor, alderman JF Costelloe, alderman Miss Ashe (the only female ), alderman J Owens, and councillors J Redington, W Carrick, and J Brennan.

Our thanks to Gearóid Timoney for this photograph.

 

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