George Brown Weekend a great success
Pictured at the George Brown Weekend in Inistioge: 1 - José Antonio Gutiérrez (Latin America Solidarity Centre); Michael D. Higgins; Jimmy Kelly (Irish Secretary UNITE); Harry Owens (Spanish Civil War historian); Amanda Richards (Inistioge George Brown Memorial Committee); Joe Doyle (IGBMC):
Even Friday’s heavy rain failed to dampen the spirits of those in attendance at this year’s George Brown Commemoration in Inistioge. Undeterred by the elements, Presidential hopeful Michael D Higgins got proceedings underway with a tree-planting ceremony in Woodstock Gardens. Later in the evening the chairperson of the event committee, Pádraig Ó Murchú, laid the wreath at the George Brown memorial plaque in St Colmcille’s cemetery. Afterwards, the sizeable audience in St Mary’s Church were treated to two very informative lectures on the theme of ‘Socialism in the Modern World’. José Antonio Gutiérrez, of Latin America Solidarity Centre, dealt with fortunes of socialism in Central and South America, while key-note speaker, Michael D. Higgins engagingly shared his thoughts on ‘The Left in a Changing World’. This session was chaired by UNITE’s Irish Secretary, Jimmy Kelly. Saturday morning, under the chairmanship of SIPTU President, Jack O’Connor, saw the focus of attention move from the international possibilities for socialism to that of an examination of events in Ireland and Spain of the 1930s. Eoin Magennis, a social historian, delivered a very fine paper on the origins and history of the short-lived Republican Congress of 1934. Spanish Civil War historian, Harry Owens examined in detail the involvement of the Roman Catholic Church in Spain in the conflict.
A welcome change in the weather made the Saturday afternoon trip to Woodstock most memorable. A moving tribute at the Olive Grove to Kilkenny’s International Brigaders, George Brown, his brother Michael, Seán Dowling and Michael Brennan, was paid by Manus O’Riordan, son of the well-known brigader Michael O’Riordan. In a second tree-planting ceremony, Jimmy Kelly, whose union UNITE have generously supported the event over the years, did the honours.
Musical entertainment was provided by Hatchery Folk in St Mary’s and at the Olive Grove, while, as is customary, the Graiguenamanagh Brass Band gave a public recital on High Street for those returning from Woodstock Gardens. Included in their varied repertoire were rousing renditions of ‘The Red Flag’ and ‘The Internationale’.
Next on the agenda is the Anti-Racism Festival in Belfast 22nd-24th July. This year’s event is dedicated to the memory of George Brown and members of the committee will be in attendance.