Annual Group Photo – Courtesy Gerry Cassidy

Blessed with lovely weather, a great turnout and a very special guest, the 2023 annual Custom House Commemoration proved to be one of our most successful to date. 

Some of the attendees gathering before the event

The event started with a call to attention from Dublin Fire Brigade piper Seamie, followed by Gary introducing Clare Hodgins to lay the first wreath in memory of the volunteers who lost their lives in the battle. 

Clare is a granddaughter of Sean Doyle who tragically succumbed to a wound at the Custom House and a grandniece of Patrick Doyle who was later executed during the war of independence and who will always be remembered as one of “The Forgotten Ten” 

Clare lays wreath for the Volunteers

Gary then introduced our special guest Maeve Taylor, who was the original model for the commemorative statue of Mother Eire, to lay the wreath for the four civilians who lost their lives. 

Maeve, with her daughter Dervilla, says a few words

A third wreath was then laid by Jim Langton to commemorate the six men who fought at the Custom House and subsequently lost their lives during the Civil War. Jim is a leading member of the Collins 22 Society and has undertaken extensive research into the civil war casualties. 

Jim, a moment’s reflection

A minute’s silence was then held in memory of the late Mícheál O’Doibhilín, a long time supporter of all matters relating to the Custom House, and who was sadly missed this year.

Thanks once again to the support from Tony Butler and all the staff at the Custom House, the group were able to enjoy refreshments and the opportunity to catch up and share stories with other relatives and friends on the day. 

A chance to catch up

Our Special Guest

We had been trying for some years to contact Maeve so were delighted when we finally made contact & she agreed to both attend and lay a wreath. 

Maeve is an exceptional lady who has led a very full life.   

In addition to her modelling work, she is also a renowned artist and has exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy.   

For many years she also organised an annual charity art exhibition at the Mater Hospital 

Having been caught up in the 1974 Dublin bombings, when she and three of her daughters were injured, Maeve was a very active member of the Justice for the Forgotten Group. 

As anyone who met up with Maeve on the day can attest to, she is a remarkable woman who, at a very young and spritely 95, is full of life and wonderful company. We were delighted to hear she still enjoys the odd glass of Baileys, a ciggie and a flutter on the horse racing! . 

We were also keen to hear of her experience modelling for the statue and her impressions of the sculptor Yann Reynard-Goulet. 

Maeve had been modelling for about a year when she was approached by a colleague in the College of Art, who knew that Yann Renard was looking for a model. 

The sessions were held in his studios in Bray over a period of about 5 weeks and Maeve would attend on a part time basis. 

While, at this distance in time, she can’t recall what they may have discussed, her recollection is that he was a very nice man and pleasant to work with. 

Shamefully, Maeve wasn’t invited to the official unveiling of the statue in 1956. 

Mother Eire / Maeve – a striking resemblance

Finally, we are indebted as always to Gerry Cassidy for his photographs and images from the day. Gerry’s video of the ceremonies can be viewed here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bU9X7hsClT0

We look forward to seeing both old and new friends on this coming 25 May.

Liam Grace