RESTORATION Plans are afoot to restore the Tiernaur Banner to its full former glory.
In the years following the 1916 Rising in Dublin, there was much unrest all over Ireland. Many realised that while the battle had been lost, a war - The War of Independence – was being planned. In many towns and villages, local projects began to materialise by way of encouragement and support for the young men and women working and planning a final severance from English rule. ‘The Tiernaur Banner’ was one of those projects and made its first public appearance on Lady’s Day - August 15, 1917. The plan to have a banner made was well known to people in the area and in a time of poverty, extensive fundraising efforts, mainly organised by the women of Cumann na mBan took place to cover the cost. Plays and concerts were major fundraisers, as well as house-to-house collections.
The banner carries the image of Paraic Pearse on one side and St Patrick on the other (Faith and Fatherland). There was a bounty out for its recovery by the Black and Tans; they feared its power, as the sight of it was always an inspiration to onlookers.
Keeping the banner safe and protected was paramount – there were many sympathisers to the cause of freedom in unsuspected houses, who took turns to care for it. Moving it from place to place was always a secretive process, done in the dead of night by the trusted few. It had some close calls, but the nearest was when Larry McGovern’s house in Newfield was searched in an effort to find it. The Black and Tans and RIC put bayonets up the chimney, through all the bedding and even went into the attic, while all the time the banner was on the large pine kitchen table, under a larger tablecloth – it was not detected - that was its closest call!
Instruments had to be sourced and musicians trained to accompany the banner and herald its arrival. Again a lot of work went into gathering funds to purchase those instruments and music teachers gave generously of their time to train local musicians.
During the years since Independence, the Tiernaur Banner, always carried by six local men, has appeared at many significant celebratory occasions. It was taken to the Republican Plot at the old Kilmeena Cemetery a number of times, often carried the two miles from the old community hall. It has watched over the unveiling of ambush monuments at Skirdagh, Carrowkennedy and Kilmeena, and was at Meddlicot Street, Newport in 1960 when Michael O’Moráin unveiled the statue of Ned Lyons.
In more recent times, the Tiernaur-Mullranny Pipe Band have accompanied the Tiernaur and Mulranny banners on St Patrick’s Day and oftentimes on Easter Sunday too. The leading banner was switched back and forth - Tiernaur led in Tiernaur and the Mulranny Banner in Mulranny.
The Tiernaur Banner, made of silk and now more than a century old, is in a fragile condition. The images are painted in oils, and cracks are appearing on their surface. It has recently been examined by experts in Banner restoration, who said that it is indeed a very unique banner, like none they have ever seen before. Due to its age and its importance in local history, plans are being put in place to have it restored. A committee has been formed to take care of fundraising for this project, which is expensive, but very worthwhile. We look forward to seeing the 102-year-old banner beautifully restored and on show at relevant gatherings in the future.
Any and all donations towards the cost of restoration will be gratefully accepted at Westport/Newport Credit Union, account number; 122234 IBAN number IE91WEC199217312115243. Treasurers are John and Lorraine Moran. Telephone 086 8306586 for further information.