STATUE OF LIAM MELLOWS
Liam Mellows was one of the most prominent figures in the Irish revolutionary movement of the early 20th century. He was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and the Irish Volunteers, and played a leading role in the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War. He was executed by the Free State forces in 1922, becoming a martyr for the republican cause.
In 1957, a statue of Liam Mellows was erected in Eyre Square, Galway, to commemorate his life and legacy. The statue was sculpted by Albert Power, who also created the statues of Patrick Pearse and James Connolly in Dublin. The statue depicts Mellows in his Irish Volunteer uniform. The pedestal bears an inscription in Irish that reads: “Liam Ó Maoilíosa, Ceannaire Éireannach, Bascaodh é ag an Stát Saor 8 Nollaig 1922” (Liam Mellows, Irish Leader, Executed by the Free State 8 December 1922).
Liam Mellows was born in Manchester, England, in 1892, to Irish parents. His father was a sergeant in the British Army, and his family moved around Ireland and England during his childhood. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in 1911, and became involved in the Gaelic League and the Irish Volunteers. He was influenced by figures such as Arthur Griffith, James Connolly and Patrick Pearse.
During the 1916 Easter Rising, he led about 700 Irish Volunteers in a series of attacks on police barracks and strategic points in County Galway. He managed to evade capture after the Rising was suppressed, and escaped to the United States in 1917. There he worked with John Devoy and other exiled republicans to raise funds and support for the Irish cause.
He returned to Ireland in 1920, and became Director of Supplies for the IRA during the War of Independence. He was also elected as a Sinn Féin TD for Galway East in the 1918 general election, and took part in the First Dáil. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which established the Irish Free State as a dominion within the British Empire. He sided with the anti-Treaty faction during the Civil War that followed.
He was captured by Free State forces in November 1922, after they stormed the Four Courts in Dublin, where he and other anti-Treaty leaders were based. He was imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail, where he wrote his famous “Notes from Mountjoy”, outlining his political views and vision for Ireland. He was executed by firing squad on 8 December 1922, along with three other anti-Treaty prisoners: Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey and Dick Barrett.
Liam Mellows is regarded as one of Galway’s most illustrious sons, and a hero of Irish republicanism. He is remembered for his courage, charisma and commitment to the ideal of an independent and socialist Irish Republic. He is also seen as a symbol of resistance against British imperialism and Free State oppression.
His statue in Eyre Square is not only a tribute to his personal achievements, but also a reminder of Galway’s role in the struggle for Irish freedom. Galway was one of the few places outside Dublin where significant fighting took place during the 1916 Easter Rising. It also witnessed many incidents of violence and repression during the War of Independence and the Civil War.
The statue of Liam Mellows is therefore a source of pride and inspiration for many Galwegians, especially those who identify with his political ideology or heritage. It is also a testament to Galway’s contribution to Irish history and culture.
If you visit the statue on certain dates, such as Easter Sunday, 8 December or 24 June (the anniversary of the start of the 1916 Easter Rising in Galway), you might witness some of the commemorative events that take place there. These include wreath-laying ceremonies, speeches, music and cultural performances.
The statue of Liam Mellows is more than just a piece of art or a historical marker. It is a living monument that reflects Galway’s past, present and future. It is a place where people gather to celebrate, remember and honour one of Ireland’s most influential and controversial leaders.
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