After the Fenian Rising of 1867, a Memorial Committee was formed in Dublin comprising mainly of Fenians, i.e. James Stritch and surviving members of the rising. ey had a number of rules governing the Association, the first being “The Association shall observe a strictly neutral attitude with regard to present day party differences”, others being “No speech shall be made at any meeting introducing differences among nationalists” and “Graves of Deceased Patriots should be cared for”. Some years later, the organisation became known as e Monuments Committee (of the Young Ireland Society), and later e Graves and Monuments Committee. Under this title many of the best known memorials of the NGA were commissioned.
In 1926 the rst meeting of what was to become Cumann Uaigheann na Laochra Gael or the National Graves Association took place, the name which it has retained up to the present day. Kathleen Clarke, widow of Dungannon man, omas Clarke, the rst signatory of the 1916 Proclamation along with the
relatives of many Irish Patriots attended these rst meetings. The objectives of the Association have always been:
• To restore, where necessary, and maintain fittingly the graves and memorials of our patriot dead of every generation.
• To commemorate those who died in the cause of Irish Freedom.
• To compile a record of such graves and memorials.
The Association is not in receipt of, nor have they ever applied for, state funding of any kind. They depend entirely on voluntary donations from nationally minded people, at home and abroad.
In 1934 tours of Kilmainham Jail were conducted by the NGA. In 1938 with the help of Helena Moloney, Maude Gonne McBride and others, they succeeded in preventing the proposed demolition of Kilmainham Jail by the Government of the day. It was later
restored by voluntary workers including members of the Association. In the late 1940’s Tyrone National Graves was established by former IRA Volunteers from the 1920’s. Willie John Kelly Junior (Dungannon) former Tyrone Brigade OC in 1921 was appointed Chairperson. Other prominent activists included Seamus Campbell (Carrickmore), Frank McCaughey (Pomeroy), Liam Kelly (Pomeroy), John McCourt (Galbally), Albert Tally (Galbally), Paddy Hughes (Dungannon) and Art McCaughey (Dungannon). Work began immediately on the erection of headstones over the graves of Tyrone’s Patriot Dead in the 1920 to 1923 period. From 1950 until 1953 memorial headstones were erected across Tyrone in various areas including Brocagh, Carrickmore, Clonoe, Cloughcor, Cranagh, Dungannon, Donaghmore and Greencastle.
At this time Tyrone National Graves was instrumental in breaking the ban on Commemorations at Easter in 1949 and 1950. Plans for Garden of Remembrance for Tyrone first began in 1927. A suitable site was identied at the current location in Carrickmore. Fundraising began in Tyrone and in the United States. The site was purchased in 1929. Only a granite base marked the spot until many years later the Garden was formally opened on Easter Monday in 1971.
Further major works were carried out to the Garden in 1991 and 2016.
Since the opening of the Garden, Tyrone National Graves has been erecting and maintaining memorial headstones over Tyrone’s Patriot Dead. A task it
continues to carry out with honour and pride.
In the last 10 years Tyrone National Graves Assoc. commenced full day tours available on request. The purpose of the tours was to visit the graves of patriots and also as a history of Tyrone.
The Association has never deviated from its guiding principle “Only a 32 County Irish Republic represents the true aspiration of those who gave their lives for Irish freedom”. Tyrone National Graves Association is an autonomous body, with no aliation to any political party, organisation or group.