Anne Hearsey, from Douglas, was a guest of honour at the 2016 celebrations in the Republic of Ireland to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising. She was invited by the Irish Government to attend the events on account of her unusual family connection.
Her great uncle, Captain Aido Hitsen, was in charge of the British Regiment sent to Dublin to help put down the rising during Easter 1916, and it was he who personally arrested one of the ringleaders, Eamon de Valera, who eventually was to become the first Prime Minister of Ireland and then President.
Mrs Hearsey says that years later, after the Republic was founded, her great uncle returned the Flag of Truce and the binoculars that he had confiscated from de Valera on that day in 1916, and from then on the two men became great friends.
The invitation to attend the recent commemorations came from de Valera’s grandson, Eamon O’Cuiv a member of the Irish Parliament, the Dáil who had paid a visit to the Isle of Man in 2009 and learnt of the connection and saw the family archive of photographs and letters.
Mrs Hearsey took part in several of the events over the Easter weekend, including a wreath-laying ceremony on the site of the pitched battle which led to the surrender of de Valera and his men.
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