Location – In Muckross Park at the Gate Lodge,
Market Square. Castleblayney. Co. Monaghan.
Date 17th February 2017
On a very cold winter day, guests and onlookers including family members, local councillors and pupils from the nearby school, gathered at the entrance of the Hope Castle estate, Castleblayney, to watch the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD unveil a blue plaque to a long forgotten local soldier from the Great War. Connaught Ranger, Thomas Hughes was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery in the field of battle.
Local man, Thomas was from Corravoo, near Castleblayney and as with so many men in Ireland in I9I4, joined the regiment at the Curragh to fight for King and Country. His bravery on 3rd September I9I6 at Guillemont, France won him the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy.
His cousin Josephine Hughes and extended families watched with pride as their ancestor was commemorated, and after the unveiling of the plaque by the Minister, the family laid a poppy
wreath at the base of the wall, in remembrance of the man who in I9I8 upon his return from France, had been lauded for his bravery and who in later years had been largely forgotten in history. A large portrait of Thomas Hughes VC was also presented to the family by Freddie Kettyle from the Ulster-Scots Agency who had sponsored the plaque.
After the unveiling and many press photographs, guests adjourned to the newly restored Gate Lodge at the entrance to the estate, where Chris Spurr, Chairman of the Ulster History Circle, introduced speakers Heather Humphreys, Councillor Aiden Campbell, and Siobhan Hughes Sharkey. The audience also listened to a beautiful violin rendition of ‘The Green Fields of France’ played by two young talented musicians from the local school.
A very dignified and appropriate commemoration for a very brave Castleblayney man whose name will now never be forgotten.
- Heather Humphreys.TD Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht with Chris Spurr, Chairman-Ulster History Circle.
- Councillor Aiden Campbell, Chair – Municipal District Castleblayney/Carrickmacross.
- Josephine Hughes and Siobhan Hughes-Sharkey relatives of Thomas Hughes VC.
- Heather Humphreys TD unveils the blue plaque.
- Guests gather to watch the unveiling.