Remembering the WW2 Liberation of Rome June 4th 1944

07 June, 2014

Canon Pat Horgan and Brian LougheedTo mark to 70th Anniversary of the WW2 Liberation of Rome and the 20th Anniversary of the creation of The Hugh O'Flaherty Memorial Grove in Muckross Arboretum, the Grove was rededicated at a special ceremony at 7.00pm on Wednesday evening, June 4th.

Chairman of the Hugh O’Flaherty Memorial Society Jerry O’Grady reminded those present that on this day 70 years ago, US General Mark Clark and the US 5th Army marched into Rome to liberate it from German occupation.

Over the previous 12 months, Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty and his informal group of brave associates had secured the safety of over 6500 people who were being hunted down by the Gestapo. On Liberation Day when General Mark Clark met the Monsignor in St Peter’s Square, the more recently re-organised and re-named “Rome Escape Line” delivered from safe hiding almost 4000 Allied escapees.

In June 1994, to mark the 50th Anniversary of that historic day, The Killarney National Park’s Superintendent Dan Kelliher and a group of interested people led by the Monsignor’s nephew Judge Hugh O’Flaherty and Senator Paul Coghlan, established a Memorial Grove of Trees in Muckross Arboretum.  On that occasion also, one of Ireland’s great poets Brendan Kennelly read his new poem titled “O’Flaherty’s Trees”.

This year, on the 70th Anniversary of Liberation, additional Mediterranean trees were planted and two new Plaques were unveiled by Pearl Dineen (niece of Msgr O’Flaherty) and Pat Dawson (Manager of the National Parks & Wildlife Service). 

The new plaques include one with the full text of Brendan Kennelly’s poem “O’Flaherty’s Trees”.   After the unveiling, Canon Pat Horgan and Canon Brian Logheed conducted an ecumenical blessing and prayers for the rededication. 

In the beautiful and tranquil setting of Muckross Arboretum the Gleneagle Concert Band under the baton of Conductor Vincent Condon performed a selection of American and Italian music.

Within the next few weeks, the Memorial Plaques plinth will be completed and additional signposting from car parks at Muckross House and Dundag will be provided to help visitors locate the Memorial Grove.