Journal Volume 5 2006

Derrylossary Churchyard and 1798 Monument (continued/1)

In more recent times a number of contemporary memorials of interest have been erected. A poignant and very romantic verse epitaph is inscribed on the grave of Archie and Audrey Collins. She was for many years the lead violinist of the R. T.E. Orchestra. Their epitaph sums up a life devoted to each other:

Archie (193O - 1988) & Audrey Collins (1936 - 1994)

Friends – Musicians – Lovers

‘I will wing my way to you honey

And among the souls of Heaven

I will find your soul

And float towards it evermore’

Derrylossary Churchyard is nationally famous as the burial place of the illustrious Childers and Barton families of Glendalough House, both of which played such important roles in the forging of the Irish Free State, and its subsequent development. Although not buried in Derrylossary a word may be said about Erskine Robert Childers father of President Erskine Childers.

Erskine (Robert) Childers (1870-1922) was one of the most noble and tragic figures of the Irish Republican struggle. Of English birth, Childers spent a great deal of his childhood at the Barton residence, beautiful Glendalough House, as he was related to the Barton family. He became an early convert to Irish republican aspirations and used his wedding present from his father-in-law, the famous yacht Asgard, to smuggle guns to the Irish Volunteers. He later gave distinguished service in the Royal Naval Service and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. Known in some circles for his literary work more so than as an Irish patriot, Childers wrote a famous thriller novel The Riddle in the Sands which was successfully filmed. Erskine Childers was at the very forefront of the Irish struggle from 1919 to 1921.He took the Republican side in the Civil war and was judicially murdered by a military court in one of the fledgling states most shameful acts of revenge. He is buried in the Republican plot in Glasnevin.

Erskine Hamilton Childers, President of Ireland (1905-1975), was born in London and son of the executed patriot Erskine Robert Childers, President Childers started his career as a travel agent manager and later held a position in the Irish Press newspaper. In 1944 he embarked on a political career and spent several years as parliamentary secretary until he became minister for Post and Telegraphs from 1951 to 1954. Following on from that he served a number of ministerial portfolios, Minister for Lands 1957-59, Minister for Transport and Power 1966-69 and Minister for Health 1969-73. Childers succeeded Mr Eamon De Valera as President of Ireland in what was at the time a rare political event, a full presidential election. He died suddenly in office on November 16 1974 and was accorded a state funeral.

Also buried in DerryIossary is Robert Childers Barton (1881-1975) of Glendalough House. A signatory of the 1922 truce along with Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins, Barton was first cousin of the executed patriot. While Barton was a high- minded Irishman dedicated to the public good, he was no republican firebrand. He served on the committee of Irish Agriculture from 1910 and would probably have remained undistinguished had he not voluntary joined the British Army on the outbreak of the Great War. As a British officer Barton was drafted to Dublin in the wake of the 1916 Rising. The whole event made such a profound impression on him that he resigned his commission and joined the Irish Volunteers. Thereafter he served as a Sinn Fein T.D. and Ireland’s first Minister of Agriculture in the first Dáil. Barton served several prison internments until he was selected as one of the negotiators in the truce. Although he signed the Treaty he voted against it and took the Republican side in the Civil war. Shortly after the establishment of the Free State he resigned from political office but served as head of the Agricultural Credit Corporation and Bord na Móna. He was 94 when he died.

Griffith, Barton, Collins (


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