The mature trees of Ballyfad woods have witnessed many historic events in their time and thanks to the team behind Ballyfad Wood Heritage and History Project, we can be sure those stories will never be lost.
Over 100 people gathered deep in the woods to witness the launch of the project, which is the culmination of years of planning and collaboration. Cllr Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin marked the moment with the unveiling of a special stone memorial created by Ronan Redmond and Pedro of Gorey Stone Art.
"You are all most welcome on this summers morning, and it’s fantastic to see such a large crowd here in this special place on this special occasion – the unveiling of the History and Heritage project that local forester of over forty years Oliver Mythen, Robert Byrne, Nicky Boland, his local woods committee and the even larger crew associated with the woods did so much to bring to fruition,” he said.
Cllr Ó Súilleabháin spoke about the rich history of the woods and how it has served as a refuge for people of the past and up until the present day.
"The majestic trees amongst us here have been growing since not too long after the 1798 rebellion. Of course, it was a hideout area for United Irishmen such as A. Hackett with one historical account saying that ‘hardly a branch was left on the trees and that you’d wonder how anyone could escape or how even a fly could survive after the wood being raked with yeomanry gunfire,’” he said.
“Ballyfad Woods has been a refuge, a sanctuary for local people down the ages – right through the Great Starvation and the local evictions of 1887, which made national and indeed international headlines. Of course, it again become a refuge over the past two years of lockdown with many travelling out from the town to find a bit of headspace here.”
Cllr Ó Súilleabháin thanked everyone involved in the project including the Ballyfad Woods Committee, Lorraine O’ Dwyer of Gallivanting Tours, Gráinne Hartnett from Wexford Walking Trails, Rory O’ Mahony from Wexford County Council, Senior Coillte personnel Liam Stafford and Mary Clifford, Derek Carroll and Ronan and Pedro of Gorey Stone Art.
During the launch, traditional music was performed by Chulainn Ó Faolain and his sister, Éire Ní Fhaolain. The group then enjoyed a walk through the woods, in which they were told more about the history of the woodland by Lorraine O’Dwyer. The walk was headed by local Piper Ray Finn, followed by a large contingent of Pike Men and Women. Later on, a noticeboard in memory of Colin ‘Jango’ Fleming was unveiled by his parents Tom and Anne and his wife Schalan.