Hugh O'Flaherty's Trees, by Brendan Kennelly
There is a tree called freedom and it grows
Somewhere in the hearts of men,
Rain falls, ice freezes, wind blows,
The tree shivers, steadies itself again,
Steadies itself like Hugh O’Flaherty’s hand,
Guided trapped and hunted people, day and night
To what all hearts love and understand,
The tree of freedom upright in the light.
Mediterranean Palm, Italian Cypress, Holm Oak, Stone Pine,
A peaceful grove in honour of that man,
Commemorates all who struggle to be free.
The hurried world is a slave of time,
Wise men are victims of their shrewdest plans.
Pause, stranger. Ponder Hugh O'Flaherty's tree
“ Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, CBE; one of the finest men it has been my privilege ever to meet. Had it not been for this gallant gentleman, there would have been no Roman Escape Organisation”
Forward to Col Sam Derry’s book “The Roman Escape Line”
“The Monsignor and those whom he recruited and inspired ensured the safety of more than 6,500 people. In anyone’s terms this represents a great achievement and is evidence to the wide range of talents which he possessed and of great leadership qualities.”
Brian Fleming author, “The Scarlet & The Black”
“These were dark days and I shall always remember the difficulties we had in trying to keep one step ahead of the Gestapo.”
Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty on “This is Your Life” BBC TV 1963
“Fr Hugh O’Flaherty, a magnetic character, fanatically keen on golf, tall, a considerable joker, with a thick brogue and blue eyes behind round steel rimmed spectacles”
Historian Raleigh Trevelyan
“Through the six month of German occupation while I was in almost daily contact with him, he never once tried to “sell” me religion, another trait for which I held him in deep respect. I did not look on him as a priest but as a very good friend who made other people’s troubles his own.”Lieutenant John Furman, Ex POW WWII