Nine-nine years ago today an article appeared in the Irish Times, about the annual general meeting of the Great Western and Midlands Railways. The members were doubting the viability of the railways, particularly in the west, where tourism outweighed industry. The Railway hotels in Mallaranny and Recess were doing quite well.
Anita has her Say
Anita McMahon, who was the Hon. Secretary of the Lower Achill Co-operative Society, made a good case for the extension of a light railway to Lower Achill. She put the case as follows;
The powers that be took her idea on board, but it never materialised. The fishing and tourist industry continued the railway lasted just about two more decades. If the light rail had been built who knows what would have come out of it.
Undeterred, Anita would put forward equally ambitious ideas on behalf of the people of Achill, with successful outcomes. Because of her endeavours she was known in Achill as Auntie Anita.
Emily had many heroes in her lifetime, most of whom were Irish Patriots especially if they took part in a rebellion against British rule. One of those perhaps closest to her heart was Fr. Manus Sweeney. He was born in Dukinella, a stone’s throw of her house on Keel Sandybanks.
Fr. Sweeney was hanged in 1799 in Newport for his supposed part in the Rebellion of the previous year. There are many legends attached to his life and death, many seeped in the supernatural.
In 1942 Emily and her friends Anita McMahon, Eva O’Flaherty, used their influence to gain publicity for the funding of a monument dedicated to the patriot priest to be erected outside his birthplace on the Island. Sculptor, Peter Grant won the commission, which was completed, and inaugurated in August 1944.
In 1942 Eva O’Flaherty, Anita McMahon and Emily along with the local parish priest and school teacher began their campaign to erect a monument dedicated to the Achill born Patriot Priest of the 1798 rebellion, Fr. Manus Sweeney. Fr. Sweeney was executed for his alleged part in the insurrection in 1799.
The well planned campaign began two years before the priest’s 180th birth anniversary in 1942. The project could easily have become impeded with obstacles, as it in the middle of World War Two. Ireland was a neutral country, and was experiencing “the Emergency”, where the flow of goods, services and transportation was slowed down. But the monument was going to be unveiled to mark an date, and that was how it was going to be. The well organised committee got in touch with the media, announcing their intention to the country. Below is one such article.