A commemorative centenary event will be held in Cliffoney this weekend to remember Fr Michael O’Flanagan.
Considered a “forgotten Irish hero” and once described as “the staunchest priest who ever lived”, Fr O’Flanagan arrived as curate in Cliffoney in 1914, but it would be the following year when the outspoken priest would become an influential figure in Sligo.
After numerous efforts in his fight for turbary rights for the local people with the Congested Districts Board, the clergyman, against the advice of his bishop, addressed his parishioners after mass on June 29, 1915 and urged them to go with him to the bog in Cloonerco the next day to cut their turf.
The turf was taken to Cliffoney village and stacked outside the old school building, across from the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks, accompanied with a tricolour and banner which bore the phrase ‘Ar moin fein D’ár muintir fein’ – ‘Our own turf for our own people were placed on this stack.’
Fr O’Flanagan was reprimanded by his bishop, Dr. Coyne, for his actions and transferred to Crossna parish in his native Roscommon.
For an outline of the events to honor Fr O’Flanagan and more from this story, pick up a copy of this week’s Sligo Weekender.