Headstone unveiled for Bloody Sunday victim John William Scott
By Eoghan Tuohey
This afternoon, Uachtarán Cumann Luthchleas Gael, John Horan, unveiled a headstone to mark the final resting place of a young victim who was killed during Bloody Sunday, November 21st, 1920 at Croke Park.
A wreath, decorated in the Dublin colours of navy and sky blue, was laid on the grave of John William “Billy” Scott, who was shot in the chest on this day 98 years ago while attending the Tipperary v Dublin Gaelic Football match at the Jones’ Road venue.
A sizeable crowd of GAA staff, media and members of the public, including current Dublin senior football manager, Jim Gavin, was led in procession by piper Pat Nolan, as the congregation poignantly made their way from the museum in Glasnevin cemetery to the grave plot.
Monsignor Eoin Tynne began the ceremony with an opening prayer, before passing onto Uachtarán John Horan, who spoke about the importance of honouring the memory of those who fell during the tragedy, as well as how everyone could relate to the case of Billy Scott, who tragically died so young, at just fourteen years of age.
He said: “We gather here to remember a fourteen year-old boy, who, in lots of ways, we can all empathise with, no more than myself, going down as a teenager to Croke Park, to witness a game of football and see people enjoying themselves. But Billy, as he was known, unfortunately, never came home to his house in Fitzroy Avenue. Unfortunately, his life was taken from him and his father had to endure that moment of being given his glasses and his tie-pin as an indication of the fact that Billy had been mortally wounded on the pitch in Croke Park.
“We’re here today to acknowledge his resting place here in Glasnevin cemetery, because, up until now, his grave had remained here, unmarked. Up until recently, people did not want to highlight the passing of those 14 victims of that terrible atrocity. Two other schoolboys, along with Billy, passed away that day Jerome O’Leary and William Robinson.
“It was a tragedy for his family, a tragedy for our country. We are here today as his GAA family, to acknowledge and remember him, and to put this headstone in place, so that anyone who visits this cemetery in the future, will remember him as one of those 14 victims on that tragic day, for us as an Association, for us as a country, that 14 of our people passed away to their eternal reward. It is an honour for me now to reveal the headstone for Billy.
“Ar dheis dé, go raibh an anam.”
Billy was born and raised in the shadow of the stadium, at Number 15 Fitzroy Avenue, and had gone to the match with a friend. When the shooting began, his father rushed to the stadium to try and locate his son, before learning that he had been taken away by ambulance. When he was handed Billy’s glasses and tie-pin, he knew that his son was lost.
Following on from the massacre in Croke Park, the authorities threatened and intimidated families to ensure that no demonstrations or displays would take place at the funerals of the victims, and, such was the climate of fear that was created, it resulted in eight being buried in unmarked graves.
This grave was identified as part of the GAA’s Bloody Sunday Grave Project, which has now seen four out of the eight unmarked graves identified, with plans in place to identify the remaining four before the centenary of the tragedy in 2020.
Today in Croke Park, the flags hung at half-mast, and the big screen was illuminated with the names of the 14 victims who lost their lives 98 years ago.