Book tells of 'last surrender'

Published 02/04/2016 | 00:00

Helen Ashdown, author of 'The Last Surrender - County Wexford 1916', with Sean Doyle, president of the 1916 Centenary Committee. On right, Billy Heffernan and Joe Mernagh in 1916 costume at the launch.
Helen Ashdown, author of 'The Last Surrender - County Wexford 1916', with Sean Doyle, president of the 1916 Centenary Committee. On right, Billy Heffernan and Joe Mernagh in 1916 costume at the launch.

Groups of Volunteers including members of Cumann na mBan involving hundreds of men and women all across County Wexford were secretly prepared and ready to fight against the British forces and the RIC in the 1916 Rising according to a new book titled 'The Last Surrender - County Wexford 1916' by Helen Ashdown.

The book was launched last Thursday (March 24) at the headquarters of the 1916 Rising, the newly-refurbished Athenaeum.

The 296 page illustrated book suggests that the Rising in Wexford in sympathy and support for Padraig Pearse and the rebels in Dublin was much more than as thought by many 'just an Enniscorthy affair'.

A list of names in the book indicates that the leaders of the Volunteers and Cumann na mBan involved more than 600 people and their families in villages and townlands across north and south of the county. The areas in which there were groups of Volunteers include Bannow, Ballindaggin, Ballycanew, Ballydonegan, Blackwater, Boolavogue, Bree, Ballaghkeene, Ballycash, Ballykearney, Ballymitty, Bridgetown, Bunclody (Newtownbarry), Camolin, Castlebridge, Cassagh, Castledockrell, Cleariestown, Clondaw, Clonroche ( Tomfarney), Courtown, Cranford, Duncannon, Duncormack, Ferns, Glynn, Gorey, Gusserane, Killogly, Kilmuckridge, Kilpierce, Marshalstown, New Ross, Oylegate, Skeeter Park, Tinnashrule, Tomcoole and Taghmon. Helen Ashdown said: 'The book takes its title from the situation that outside of Dublin, the Wexford volunteers were the last to surrender, some of it due to poor communications and more due to their resistance to the last.

'I wrote the book in an attempt to place on record the influences that led to the Rising, the great sacrifices that ordinary people made, their trampled on feelings and the drama of Easter Week in Enniscorthy and in every part of the county. This book is a monument to the people who so bravely fought for their ideals and for their human rights and against oppression. It provides an insight into the thinking and aspirations of the people of County Wexford of 100 years ago. I hope every schoolboy and schoolgirl reads it.'

Helen Ashdown, a former teacher and a former newspaper sub-editor and now a books editor is a director of the Athenaeum at Enniscorthy. She lives at Clonleigh, Palace with her husband Noel Murphy and their daughter Victoria. She attended Colaiste Bride, Enniscorthy and from there progressed to University College Dublin where she graduated with a BA degree in Greek and Roman Civilisation and Ancient Greek followed by an MA in Greek Literature.

She has edited many books at national and at local level, including 'The Wexford Book' by Doyle, Freeman and Murphy, 'Love from Zambia' by Fr. Fritz O'Kelly and 'Sacred Cows, Silent Sheep' by Simon. W. Kennedy. 'The Last Surrender- County Wexford 1916 ' is designed by Rosbui Media, Gusserane, is printed by Swiftprint Solutions, Dublin and is published by Three Sisters Press, in Galbally.

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