Creagh Remembers a Noted Patriot
THE descendant of a long line of Revolutionaries, Fenian, IRB member, Land Leaguer, Parnellite and Parliamentarian, Matt Harris M.P. was remembered and honoured at a very simple ceremony in Creagh Cemetery on Sunday.
After last Mass in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Creagh, the members of the Creagh Community Council, organisers of the ceremony; their guests and members of the public moved to a corner of Creagh Cemetery, near the main gate, where stands a very handsome Celtic Cross erected to the memory of one who kept the torch of freedom alight in the hard years that followed the famine and the abortive Fenian Rising of 1867.
Among the guests present were descendants of the late Patriot, notably author poet and playwright, Ulick O'Connor, great-great grandson of Matt Harris, his brother Donogh and other members of the O'Connor family.
Ulick O'Connor laid a wreath on his great-great grandfather’s grave and recalled the life and times of a man who represented East Galway in Parliament.
In his oration, Mr. O’Connor said that the reason more is not known about Matt Harris is that one of his daughters, Delia, married and went to live in China. She took with her her father's private papers [which] were lost or mislaid.
Mr. O'Connor recalled that Matt Harris founded the Ballinasloe Tenants' Defence Association, the first of its kind in the country and this gave Michael Davitt the idea for his Land League. Harris greatest contribution to the Irish cause was when he persuaded the Fenians to join with Parnell in an effort to break the link with England through constitutional means.
Mrs. Kay Keogan, Vice Chairperson of the Creagh Community Council thanked Mr. O'Connor and all who had taken part in the ceremony, including the Ballinasloe Town Band and the local Troop of Girl Guides.
Mrs. Maura Croffy of the Community Council read a letter regretting his inability to attend that came from General M. J. Costello, one of the last surviving members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
Mr. Tadhg Mac Lochlainn said that the name of Matt Harris should be listed among the great Irish patriots. He said that Matt Harris rekindled the fire of Republicanism in the West of Ireland.
Rev. Fr. John Naughton led those present in prayers for the repose of the soul of Malt Harris.
Source: Connacht Tribune, 20 April 1984