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Friday 18 January 2019

Gorey gears up for 400th anniversary

Gorey to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Gorey's town charter in October 1619

This map was surveyed by William Petty in the years 1656-1658 and now includes Gorey (Gory). It and the other map featured here come from UCD Library
This map was surveyed by William Petty in the years 1656-1658 and now includes Gorey (Gory). It and the other map featured here come from UCD Library
This map was produced in 1610 by John Speed and shows Enniscorthy (Enyfeaty), Ferns (Fernes) and Arklow (Areklo) but not Gorey
Ian Kenneally, editor of Gorey 400
The Market House in Gorey is one of the oldest buildings in the town
District Manager Amanda Byrne

Sara Gahan

The New Year will play host to an array of celebratory events for Gorey 400 Festival to mark the Charter that established Gorey town which was signed in 1619.

Four hundred years on, Gorey Municipal District are taking the opportunity to mark the major occasion and will celebrate in many forms that include reflection, renewal and re-invention.

Amanda Byrne, district manager, is calling on all local people to get involved as it is vital in making Gorey 400 Festival a success.

'The focus is on celebrating the development of Gorey town by honouring the past, enriching the present and safeguarding the future,' she added.

The programme for Gorey 400 will run throughout 2019 with new events added throughout. It will be launched on January 31, at an EXPO afternoon in the Ashdown Park Hotel that will include a Hall of Fame showcasing the achievements of Gorey natives, Gorey School of Art inspired Centre of Creativity, photographic exhibitions, interviews and discussions and entertainment with some of Gorey's finest musicians.

'It is planned to develop projects under each theme,' said Ms Byrne. 'There are many opportunities to honour our shared past. These will include restoration works in the Market Square Graveyard, up-dating the Gorey heritage Trail signage and brochures and undertaking some up grade works at the Byrne Perry Monument.'

In conjunction with the 400 celebration, a book titled 'Gorey 400 - the History of Gorey and North Wexford' will be published. It is a joint production between North Wexford Historical Society, the Byrne Perry Summer School and Gorey Municipal District. The objective is to produce a high quality and comprehensive account of the landscape, history, heritage and society of north Wexford from the time of the first human habitation to the present day.

'The Gorey 400 publication will be a landmark publication for the town and district,' said Ms Byrne. 'There will be a linked programme of events during 2019 exploring the different themes within the book.'

Ms Byrne said our present is shaped by our past but our actions today will ultimately determine our future and create the legacy for the generations that succeed us. There are a number of important projects planned for Gorey town which will enrich the present and contribute to that legacy.

The re-development of Gorey Town and District Park is scheduled to commence early in 2019, projects for Gorey Market House and Esmonde Street are in planning and development phase and will commence once funding is secured. There will also be a series of Gorey 400 community events including the Gorey 400 St Patrick's Day Parade. Gorey Municipal District will have a series of civic honours and awards presentations in March 2019.

'Gorey is the most ethnically diverse town in County Wexford, with the highest percentage of people of different nationalities living in it,' said Ms Byrne. 'Communities such as the Polish and Sri Lankan make an important contribution to cultural life in the town organising specific festivals and assisting with different events. The Municipal District will examine ways to build on this in 2019.'

The third strand of the Gorey 400 programme is 'Safeguarding the Future'. This will include environmental projects such as continuing the biodiversity corridor and planting throughout the town, a Gorey 400 tree planting programme and a Gorey Tidy Towns Gorey 400 landscaping project at the Monument on McCurtain Street.

There will also be a focus on healthy living, building on the 2018 Freedom Fit festival. This will include a series of Gorey 400 themed sports events and introducing Gorey's Healthy Living Ambassadors.

Bishop Thomas Ram regarded as the founder of Gorey town in 1619

Bishop Thomas Ram constituted a corporate town under a charter in October, 1619, called the Town of Newborough and this was the foundation for Gorey.

King James I of England issued a charter to the Town of Newborough, but while the new name did not survive the test of time, the charter and events around it had a major influence on the history of Gorey and north Wexford.

The foundation of the new town of Gorey (there was already an existing settlement in the vicinity of Gorey Bridge/Clonattin area) arose in the aftermath of the plantation of north Wexford during which the lands of the old Gaelic families were declared as forfeited and distributed among the new wave of settlers with small re-grants to the original inhabitants.

This influx gave rise to a diverse population of Gaelic, some old English/Norman, and new English settlers in the area and was a contributory factor in the upheavals of 1641 and 1798.

As well as influencing the history of the area, this diversity has also shaped the physical landscape of the town and the surrounding countryside as well as the unique character of its people.

In the Market Square is the Old Cemetery where the remains of Bishop Ram are buried who's family were responsible for Gorey's layout and determined the Administration of Gorey affairs for three centuries.

On Gorey's Main Street, where the former Permanent TSB Bank used to be, was the site of Bishop Ram's Palace that was built in 1620 but has long since gone.

Gorey Guardian

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