The themes of loss and sacrifice were central to the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Coalisland on Easter Saturday.
Crowds lined the streets of the Tyrone town to watch a parade that included children holding banners of the Irish Proclamation’s signatories, Sinn Fein councillors dressed as if it were one hundred years ago and bands beating out a marching rhythm for men in trench coats armed with rifles.
Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy was joined on stage after the procession by Minister Michelle O’Neill, Mid Ulster Council chair Linda Dillon and former republican prisoner Bobby Storey, among others.
Mr Storey regaled the crowd with tales of his time in Long Kesh as well as paying tribute to the “comrades and friends” he lost during the Troubles in the Mid Ulster area.
“It’s always an honour to be asked to speak on behalf of the patriot dead,” he said.
“More poignantly and especially on the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising and of course the 35th anniversary of the hunger strike.
“Both of those occasions are momentous and the fact that they were so far apart reminds us of the unbowed and the unbroken nature of republican resistance and sacrifice across the last century.
“We all owe so much to the brave men and women who gave their all for Irish freedom and I would like at this point to extend my solidarity to the patriot dead from this area and welcome their families here this afternoon.”
Minister O’Neill paid tribute to the women who were involved, while songs like A Legend and Grace were intermingled with the 1916 Proclamation, the IRA’s Tyrone roll of honour, read by Cllr Joe O’Neill, and a poem - from Cllr Dillon - about a mother’s pride in losing her sons to ‘the cause’.