THE FINAL JOURNEY

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Solemn ceremony for those executed.

The gloomy execution yard where 10 young men died for Ireland became a symbol of a nations' pride yesterday.

The volunteers' coffins, draped in the flag they died for, were lined out side by side inside the grim walls of Mountjoy Jail where their bodies have lain for 80 years.

A guard of honour of prision officers in dress uniforms stood next to the coffins.

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More than 600 relatives looked on with pride as the tricolour was draped over the coffins of the 10 young men. Some watched silently, others, cried, remembering the lives so selflessly given during the War of Independence.

As Kevin Barry, the youngest of the patriots, was being executed in 1920, his mother stood outside the Dublin jail praying for him. And yesterday, in an Ireland so vastly changed from the one in which he died, the families of the executed men were able to give them funerals fit for heroes.

Harpists Aine Ni Dhuil's haunting laments echoed through the prison walls as the rain poured down on the small gathering of mourners.

Justice Minsiter John O'Donoghue, prison director Sean Aylward and Mountjoy governor John Lonergan joined relatives before the cortege left for the official state funeral. Mr Lonergan said one chapter in the history of Mountjoy had come to an end. He added:"The site where these men were buried played a very special part in the history of this prison for the 80 years. They will be missed by staff, inmates and visitors to Mountjoy who always paid their respects to the graves. But I would like to say a few words on behalf of the former governor of Mountjoy. There has been a lot of innuendo that these men were not buried in a cival and humane fashion. But there is new evidence that they were buried with respect and humanity." He added:"I think it is fitting and only right to have these national heroes delivered back into the wider community."

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Shortly before 2pm, the bodies in 10 black herses, left the prison where they spent their final days. A bell tolled, just as it had after each of them was executed. And as the cortege left the jail's main enterance, a 600-strong crowd which had gathered in the rain burst into applause. At last, their heroes were back among the people again.

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Source: The Irish Mirror, Monday October 15th, 2001