On a bright, crisp, cold Sunday in November over 40 people gathered in the room in "Dromalane House", where John Martin & John Mitchel had died. The day on the last Sunday of November 2008, had been organised by Francis Gallagher and the main talk was given by Dr John Robb of the "New Ireland" Movement.
The enthusiastic historians braved the bitterly cold frost,to walk from "Bagenal's castle" to "Dromalane House", where Francis welcomed all present and introduced Adrian Murdock, who gave the talk on the significance to the house to the Mitchel & Martin families and it was a great thrill to walk into the room, in which the two patriots had died 9
days apart in March 1875.
From the group left the Castle, until the end of the day, it was all caught on film, very kindly by Donagh McKeown.
In the historic room, which has been changed beyond all rocognition, into a modern office, Adrian gave a brief talk about the vist to Dromalane of John Mitchel, the year before his death, then the rest of the address was devoted to the the death & funeral of John Martin, who died on 29th March 1875.
Following this a Mr Louis Hourrican from Warrenpoint, spoke of seeing the room as a young man in 1946, when there was a plaque above the door to say it was John Mitchel's room and upon entering he saw a four poster bed & dressing table, with a gentleman's hair brushes & shaving items on top. In the 1980's he was greatly surprised to see the same bed in "Leacain House", Rostrevor, owned by Mr Leech. Sadly several years ago, the house was demolished & where the bed is now is any ones guess!!
The group then made its way to the "Old Meeting House Green", High Street, where standing by the Mitchel graves, Anthony Russel gave a brief talk about the life & death of John Mitchel. Following this Dr John Robb laid a wreath at the grave and then gave a short talk, saving the most of it for the warmth of the museum later.
Back at the museum, everyone gathered in the banqueting hall, by this time Michael & Carmel McKeown had also arrived. Everything being set up & the photographers having finished taking photos, Dr John Robb gave a wonderful & enlightening presntation on John Mitchel, linking it to the present day work of the "New Ireland Group".
Following the presentation Stephen Fitzpatrick, auctioneer, then came forward to unveil the excellent picture he bought at auction in Dublin, some years ago. It had originally belonged to Thomas Clarke of 1916 and Stephen explained in detail the origins of the picture & the careful restoration work, which he had carried out on it and it now has pride of place in his Newry office.
Everyone then tucked into the delicious refreshments, which were prepare dby the "Copper Restaurant", but unfortunately time flew past so quickly as people tried to meet & chat to each other, while trying also to eat. Dr John also had to quickly bring the day to a close, as he was hurrying to catch a train home.
Yet all present commented on an enjoyable & informative afternoon and hopefully something similar will be arranged in the not too distant future!
The wonderful "Book of Newry" was also on sale and copies can still be obtained locally or contacting any member of the "Old Newry Society", of which the author had recently the great honour of being brought onto the committee.