Wednesday, 29th June 2011
Waterford news - 1946
Patrick o'reilly and michael Fitzgerald, executed at wATerford, january 25th 1923
Patrick O'Reilly and Michael Fitzgerald were attached to the Cork No. 1 Brigade, I.R.A. They were both from Youghal and had been operating in their Brigade Area up to their capture at Clashmore, Co. Waterford, by Free State troops towards the end of 1922. Patrick O'Reilly was 24 years old and was a painter by trade, he was something of an artist too as the paintings done by him in his cell at Ballybricken Gaol showed. Michael Fitzgerald was also 24 year old and had started life as a sailor. On their capture they were imprisoned for some time in Dungarvan, being later removed to Ballybricken Gaol. The war between the Republican forces and the Free State Army at this period had assumed a very tense atmosphere. The latter with unlimited supplies of arms and munitions, were gradually overcoming the remnants of the sparsely equipped Republican forces. Patrick O'Reilly and Michael Fitzgerald were charged before a Free State military courtmartial in Waterford with carrying arms and waging war against the newly set up Government forces. They were both found guilty and were sentenced to death. Paddy Cuddihy of Tramore and attached to the No. 6 Battalion, Waterford No. 1 Brigade, was also sentenced to death at the time but was later reprieved. Paddy died of ill health a few years ago in his home in Tramore.
Patrick O'Reilly and Michael Fitzgerald were marched from Ballybricken Gaol on the morning of January 25th, 1923, to the place of execution at the Military Barracks, Barrack Street (opposite Mt. Sion Schools), Waterford. As they marched in the midst of a heavy bodyguard across Mayor's Walk that morning, they sang lustily together "We are the boys of the First Cork Brigade." On reaching the Barracks, both men, who had received the rites of Holy Church that morning, were calm and composed. One of them taking from his pocket a packet of cigarettes proceeded to hand them around to the firing party.
The two men made one last request, that they not be blindfolded, which request was granted. They died standing erect, side by side. A great cause is worthy of brave men and the two Republican soldiers from Youghal, who faced death in Waterford Barracks, added in their passing fresh lustre to the noble cause which they espoused.
Both men were buried in the Barrack grounds but in October of that year, a few months after the cease fire order terminating the war, their bodies were taken up for re-interment at Youghal. On the occasion of this funeral a huge concourse accompanied it outside the confines of the city. A large body of people who had travelled down from County Cork proceeded with the funeral cortege to Youghal where Patrick O'Reilly and Michael Fitzgerald were finally laid to rest in the bosom of the county which bore them.
Fitzgerald Road and O'Reilly Road of the Cork Road estate are named in memory of these two men.
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