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Radio documentary on life and death of Rosegreen Fenian

Sunday, 9th September, 2018 9:00am
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Radio documentary on life and death of Rosegreen Fenian
Radio documentary on life and death of Rosegreen Fenian

A Promise Kept

A short time before he died in 1923, an elderly man had a Celtic cross erected in Rosegreen Cemetery inscribed with his name and where he came from. He then entrusted neighbours and friends to simply add his date of death when the time came. This promise was fulfilled but not until 90 years after his passing in 2013. It now reads:

'This cross marks the burial place of Thomas O'Dea, Ballydoyle, died 9th June 1923 aged 83 - Patriot & Fenian.'

But who exactly was he, who were his family and what activities he was involved in as a member of the Fenian organisation. He's reputed to have stood as an important witness during the Milltownmore Outrage Case of 1881 but what was this and what was the nature of the testimony he supplied. Local lore has it that he was ultimately evicted from his farm in Ballydoyle, given a plot to live on by a neighbour, before ending his days in Cashel. But why did it take 90 years to carry out this veteran Fenian's seemingly straightforward wish of simply adding his date of death to the monument already in situ in Rosegreen Cemetery.

Many of the details concerning Thomas O'Dea's life have faded over time, but by exploring local knowledge and the records now available, a forthcoming radio documentary has gone on a journey to investigate and unravel his story and highlight the various incidents that took place in Co. Tipperary which might have shaped his outlook politically. Light is also be shed on his family, friendships and on some of the hardships he experienced in his personal life before revealing some possible explanations for the nine decade delay in carrying out his final request.

By a remarkable coincidence, one month after that of O'Dea; the death took place of his great friend John Davin from Rathsallagh, Rosegreen, in Pennsylvania. It transpires that by 2013, his headstone (also a Celtic cross) in Holy Cross Cemetery, Yeadon, Delaware County hadn't been engraved with his name or indeed his date of death either. The story of how this was righted also features in the programme whose contributors include Eva Ó Cathaoir, James Davin, Noel Delahunty, John Devereux, John Flannery, Gerry Long, Dr. Thomas McGrath and Tom O'Donnell.

This 4-part series entitled 'A Promise Kept' is the latest offering from Tom Hurley whose documentaries are popular listening within the Premier County and beyond. To be aired over four consecutive Mondays just after the 11am news on Tipp Mid West Radio beginning on September 10th, the programmes will also be streamed on


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