Friday 24 May 2019

Stage set in Enniscorthy for Seamus Rafter commemorations

Seamus Rafter
Seamus Rafter

Pádraig Byrne

One only has to take a glance at Enniscorthy to see the high esteem in which Seamus Rafter is held. From Rafter Street to the Seamus Rafter bridge and the wonderful statue bearing his likeness, the legacy of this Irish patriot lives on in the very fabric of the town. A major ceremony is planned to mark the 100th anniversary of this patriot's death this Sunday, September 9.

Rafter died on September 13, 1918, from injuries sustained when a bomb exploded prematurely at Antwerp House in Mary Street, while being primed for engagement against British Forces. A young publican, Rafter lived in Slaney Place at the time of his death in the premises now occupied by Holohan's. He suffered horrific injuries in the blast, which occurred within 100 yards of his home, and died within days.

This Sunday a National Colour Party and Honour Guard from the 3rd Infantry Battalion, along with a bugler and drummer from the Army School of Music will lead the commemoration ceremonies in town. Bishop Denis Brennan will be the Chief Celebrant at a special Mass at St Aidan's Cathedral at 12.30 p.m. on Sunday, at which members of Seamus Rafter's family will be guests of honour.

Following the service, a parade will take place from the Cathedral to the Rafter Monument in Abbey Square where military honours will be rendered and a wreath laid. Wreaths will also be laid at the Athenaeum, the headquarters of the Irish Volunteers in Enniscorthy during the 1916 Rising, and at Rafter's former home, Holohan's in Slaney Place.

The parade will be led by Ballindaggin Pipe Band and will involve a large number of uniformed bodies including members of the UN Veterans Association, ONE members, and re-enactor Groups. Relatives of those who took part in the Rising in Enniscorthy are also invited to participate in the parade which will form up outside St Aidan's Cathedral immediately after Mass.

Following the wreath laying, another ceremony will take place in The Athenaeum where an exhibition of memorabilia of Seamus Rafter will be opened, chronicling the life and times of the great man. All are welcome to attend and it looks set to be a fascinating and poignant occasion.

Enniscorthy Guardian