The following article relating to Tommy Larkin was published in the Connacht Tribune on Friday 8th August 1986.
WEEK-LONG FESTIVAL RECALLS EVICTIONS
The centenary of the evictions of East Galway are to be remembered in a week-long festival organised by the Woodford Heritage Group. Festival activities, including visits to historical locations in the area, as well as lectures, will be spread throughout the South East of the county, including Loughrea, Portumna, Ballinakill and Woodford.
It will be officially opened on August in Woodford when the Woodford Heritage Group will also hold the Western launch of their new book “A forgotten Campaign and aspects of South East Galway”.
Key events include the unveiling of a memorial headstone to Tommy Larkin by Nobel peace prize winner Seán MacBride on Aug 17th.
Tommy Larkin was arrested at the famous week-long eviction of “Saunders Fort” and died a year later, at the age of twenty three, following a year of utter neglect as a prisoner in Kilkenny. His funeral was attended by up to 15,000 people.
On August 20th the “Saunders Fort” eviction will be recalled with the unveiling of a plaque. That eviction, in which tenants held out for a week against a crown force of one thousand was to prove the rallying cry for the down-trodden tenants. In October, 1885 the ‘Plan of Campaign’ during which tenants withheld rent, was declared open.
Also on that day a plaque will be unveiled at the former home of “Doc” Tully at Looscaun. His eviction was recorded as one of the toughest in the area, having held out courageously against the battering rams of the landlord’s forces. “Doc” Tully emigrated to Australia in 1890 while on the run and became famous there for his pioneering work in the formation of farming organisations and other local movements.
In Fact, some of “Doc” Tully’s distant relations, including a grandnephew and a grand-niece, will be in Ireland for the celebrations. Accompanying them will be an Australian television producer who, with the help of an RTE crew, will film the ceremonies and Galway locations as part of a programme on “Doc” Tully.
The East Galway Centenary Heritage Festival in all will run between 14th – 21st August and according to Mr Sean Hayes, Co-ordinator of the Centenary Committee plans are well under way with the programme for the week having being completed.
The festival kicks off with an eleven aside hurling tournament on Thursday 14th when teams for North Clare and East Galway are being invited to take part in Woodford. Friday, August 15th will be a major day commencing with an open air Mass at Lough Atorick at noon followed by the book launch at 4.00pm in Larkin Hall, Woodford. A grand opening parade will take place from the Barkhill to Larkin Memorial Park and the festival week will be officially opened there at 5p.m.
Saturday, August 16th is being considered Portumna Day and activities will include a general knowledge treasure trail for young people, a junior tennis tournament, an open golf day at Portumna Golf Club organised by Tommy Larkin GAA club. A symposium on the Clanricard Evictions and a guided field trip by foot and coach to Portumna Castle and Priory, Ballymacegan, Pallas and Kilcorban and finishing the day with a dinner dance at the Portland House Hotel.
During the week there will be other field trips covering other places of historical interest in the East Galway locality.
On Sunday evening August 17th Mr Seán MacBride has agreed to unveil the special Tommy Larkin headstone in Abbey, after which there will be a symposium on Tommy Larkin in Abbey Hall.
Events on Monday, August 18th will centre on Loughrea and will include a special prayer service in the Cathedral, a tour of the Cathedral and Museum, Rosary in the Carmelite Abbey and the final of the hurling competition during the evening.
The programme for the week is a very full and comprehensive one and covers a large number of activities suiting all tastes, both young and old. The committee states that the exact time schedules and full details for the whole week will shortly be available in all areas.
The festival will close on Thursday August 21st with an ecumenical Service of Peace and Reconciliation in the Westpark Hotel.
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