Sunday 18 March 2018

1798 plans coming together

Programme of events will include re-enactment, three-day conference and various other activities

Battle re-enactments will take place from June 15 to 17
Battle re-enactments will take place from June 15 to 17

The 220th anniversary of the 1798 Rebellion and the hugely significant battle of Vinegar Hill is to be marked with an impressive programme of events due to take place over the coming months. The programme was officially unveiled at last week's meeting of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council and it is hoped that it will attract even more tourists into the area this year.

It is hoped that young people will take a greater interest in the illustrious history of Vinegar Hill this year and in April teaching resource and school activity packs will be circulated to primary and secondary schools locally, focusing on the significance of the 1798 rebellion in Wexford. Staff at the National 1798 Centre are currently working on the pack and it is hoped that it will also be made available from the 1798 Centre website.

From May 25 to 27, an archaeology conference will take place showcasing some of the wonderful finds from recent surveys of the Vinegar Hill battlefield. The three day conference will be held in The Presentation Centre and will consist of a screening of a documentary on the Longest Day Research Project on the Friday, a full day of lectures on the Saturday and a field trip and tour of Vinegar Hill on Sunday.

Events continue in June with scheduled battle re-enactments due to take place from June 15 to 17. This year, Enniscorthy will link with New Ross and there will be a street battle there on Saturday, June 16, followed by the large scale re-enactment on Vinegar Hill on Sunday, June 17, along with a living histories camp in the Abbey Square where the All Ireland Farmer's Market will also be taking place.

On June 21, the annual Longest Day Commemoration takes place at Vinegar Hill to remember all those who died during the rebellion. This event will consist of a blessing, a poetry recitation and a wreath laying ceremony. In July, Enniscorthy will embrace a certain joie de vivre as a celebration of all things French takes place in connection with the 20th anniversary of the Tour de France passing through the town. Among the schedule for the Sunday, July 15, will be examinations of French culture, history and cuisine throughout the town.

In August, this will be followed by a special concert featuring traditional songs and music associated with the 1798 rebellion. While no date has been set yet, it is hoped that this event might correlate with the visit of a delegation from Newfoundland. Finally in September, a book will be published on the recent Vinegar Hill Archaeology study and it is hoped that this may coincide with the Wexford Literary Festival.

Chairman Keith Doyle said that he was particularly excited about the association with New Ross this year and affirmed that 'we're twice as strong together' and that 'this could be significant in terms of making this a national event to attract people into the county and keep them here for a few days.'

Cllr John O'Rourke suggested promoting these events through the upcoming St Patrick's Day parade, while Cllr Paddy Kavanagh said that given the substantial interest in the Vinegar Hill site, he was concerned as to whether the Presentation Centre would be big enough to host the three day conference. All of the councillors welcomed the programme of events and hoped that it would have a positive impact both in terms of tourism and for the enjoyment of the people of Enniscorthy.

Enniscorthy Guardian