Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Jackie Clarke Collection has unveiled two new display cabinets of ‘Revolutionary Doctors’ that will provoke great local interest.

Memorabilia belonging to Dr John Madden and Dr John Crowley will be displayed in the collection in Ballina.

The Dr. John Madden Collection was donated to the Jackie Clarke Collection by Pat Breen, with the support of Westport Historical Society in recent weeks. Dr. Madden was born in Belderrig, Co. Mayo in 1896. A medical practitioner, surgeon, active member of the North Mayo and West Mayo Brigades of the IRA.

In 1920 he was elected to as Sinn Féin candidate to Mayo County Council. In the general election of 1927, he was one of only five Sinn Féin TD’s elected to Dáil Éireann but did not take up his seat due to the abstentionist policy of the party at that time. A fluent Irish speaker and a skilled orator, Dr.Madden was a popular speaker at Republican gatherings and commemorations.

He died at the age of 58 in 1954 and is buried in Doonfeeny graveyard. Included in the artefacts on display are photographs, medals, memorabilia and the tri-colour which draped his coffin.

The Jackie Clarke Collection will also display the medical bag and equipment which belonged to Dr John Crowley, with thanks to Mrs Florrie McBrien and Mrs Cauleen Barrett.

A native of Cork, Dr. Crowley lived in Ballycastle for over three decades. As a Sinn Féin candidate for North Mayo, he was elected in the historic General Election of 1918, taking his seat in the first Dáil Éireann. He was a central figure in the War of Independence, during which time he suffered greatly at the hands of Crown Forces.

He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and was captured by Free State soldiers & held at Ballina Workhouse for a time. He was released following the dramatic Republican capture of the town in September 1922.

Dr. Crowley died age 64 in 1934. His funeral was attended by multitudes. His commitment as a politician & fortitude as a revolutionary were recalled by his comrades of old. But it was for his humanity and kindness that he was most remembered, as the
following passage from his obituary in the Ballina Herald in February 1934 illustrates;

“The people of Ballycastle area will especially feel his loss for not alone was he their doctor, but he was also their trusted adviser, guide, philosopher and friend. They will ever remember his steadfast attention to duty, for he over and over again on the bleakest nights, trudged over the mountains and through the bogs to ease their ills. No wonder they mourn his loss which to them seems irreparable”.

A spokesperson for the Jackie Clarke Collection said: “We invite you to visit the Collection and see these and hugely significant artefacts which bring to life the bravery & selflessness of two remarkable men who made a lasting contribution to Ireland, Mayo & her people.”

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