West Tyrone Sinn Féin -- Building an Ireland of Equals

Poignant commemoration marks 25 years since the murder of Aidan Mc Anespie

Published: 25 February, 2013

Aidan Mc Anespie's father, John and sister Margo take part in Thursday evenings candle lit commemoration.

Aidan Mc Anespie's father, John and sister Margo take part in Thursday evenings candle lit commemoration.

On Thursday evening over 1000 people took part in a candle lit commemoration to the spot where Aidan Mc Anespie was shot dead by a British soldier 25 years ago.

The procession moved from Coronation Park along the road where the checkpoint once stood, led by a lone piper. At the cross which marks the spot where Aidan fell, a commemoration, chaired by the Mayor of Dungannon & South Tyrone, Phelim Gildernew was held.

During the proceedings, Gerry Cunningham sang the ballad of Aidan Mc Anespie, a song which he penned himself and which moved most of those in attendance to tears. Sean Mc Anespie, brother of Aidan briefly addressed the crowd to convey the family's heartfelt thanks for their ongoing support.

Aidan's sister Eilish Mc Cabe, who tirelessly fought for truth and justice and his mother Lizzie, both deceased, were remembered on the night.

The main speaker of the evening was Tyrone GAA stalwart and current Fermanagh manager, Peter Canavan. During his remarks, Peter said:

'There have been a lot of changes during the past 25 years since Aidan died. The British army checkpoint where so many Nationalists were detained over the years on their way to Croke Park is gone and the watch tower from where Aidan's killer fired that fatal shot is dismantled.

'In the 1980's it was a very different experience for Tyrone Gaels heading to Croke Park. In those days, Tyrone were usually defeated on the field and after a long trip home the supporters and players would be detained and taunted by soldiers with foreign accents as soon as we reached the border here at Aughnacloy.

'For the younger generation, going to Croke Park and taking part in Gaelic games is a completely different experience. Tyrone has had a lot of success at All Ireland level in the 90's and during the past decade. Rather than being stopped at the checkpoint, we now stop with the silverware at the spot where Aidan was killed, to reflect and take extra satisfaction from knowing that he would be proud.

'The GAA is stronger than it has ever been in its history. Our facilities are second to none. Young Gaels can now walk the roads and streets in their county colours without fear of intimidation or, in Aidan's case, murder.

'Nationalists are in government and making decisions on an equal basis in the 6 counties and in other parts of the island.

'The GAA, which has traditionally been discriminated against by the government is now getting a fairer share of public money to develop much needed facilities, such as the centre of participation at Garvaghey. In fact, most key decisions relating to all aspects of life in areas such schools, infrastructure development, health provision are increasingly being made on an All-Ireland basis.

'A chairde, the game is not yet over but we are well on the road so we must stick at the project and remain united'.

Following the commemoration, people visited an exhibition about Aidan's life. This also included a display of the 'Remembering Quilt'. On Saturday afternoon, a tribute match between Kileeshil and Aghaloo was also held in memory of Aidan.