Enniscorthy to take centre stage at Rising commemorations

By David Tucker

Published 12/03/2016 | 00:00

James Gleeson (centre) with the bike he used to travel from Gorey to Ennsicorthy to take part in the Rising in the town in 1916.
James Gleeson (centre) with the bike he used to travel from Gorey to Ennsicorthy to take part in the Rising in the town in 1916.

years of careful planning will come to fruition in Enniscorthy on Easter Monday when what is believed to be the town's largest ever civic event and State ceremony takes place.

More than 10,000 people are expected in the town for the 1916 Rising Centenary Celebrations, the town just one of four outside Dublin to rise and the last to surrender.

The 'Backroads to the Rising Programme' is currently taking place in many rural villages within the hinterland of Enniscorthy and will conclude on Easter Monday when almost 500 men and women will walk or cycle into Enniscorthy to participate in the centenary celebrations, following in the footsteps of the volunteers who marched to join their comrades in support of the Rising 100 years ago.

Celebrations begin at 11.30 a.m. with the 1916 Centenary Parade from St. Aidan's Cathedral to the Seamus Rafter Statue, Abbey Square, pausing at The Athenaeum for the raising of the Enniscorthy 1916 Battalion Flag, followed by a minute's silence.

It promises to be a spectacular parade, with more than 800 participants, including hundreds of pike people, re-enactors and relatives of 1916 volunteers, supported by a battalion of troops from the Irish Defence Forces, together with other uniformed participants and military band.

The parade will travel through the town centre before converging on Abbey Square, where a formal State Commemoration Ceremony will take place. The ceremony will include the reading of the Proclamation and the laying of a wreath at Rafter Monument by a representative of the Defence Forces. The wreath-laying ceremony will be part of a series of synchronised wreath-laying ceremonies, with wreaths also being laid at significant sites in Dublin, Meath, Cork, and Galway. The wreaths will simultaneously be laid at precisely 1.15 p.m. - the time that the Rising's very first shots rang out.

The wreath-laying ceremony will be followed with the raising of the Patriot's Flag, one of County Wexford's 1916 legacy projects. The huge flag, measuring almost 6m x 3m, will be raised by a representative of the Defence Forces on a new 16-metre high illuminated flagpole recently erected in the centre of Abbey Square.

The monument will symbolise Enniscorthy's long-standing claim as the first town to fly the Tri-colour when, on March 7, 1848, a flag of green, white and orange was carried in a parade from the town to nearby Vinegar Hill.

The first part of the State Ceremony will conclude to the playing of the National Anthem by the Military Band, with an Air Corps Fly Past during the closing notes of Reveille.

The second part of the celebrations will continue at Abbey Square and will feature the performance of a number of songs specially commissioned by Wexford County Council for 2016, the reading of a commissioned poem, and the much-anticipated 1916-themed battle re-enactment.

Wexford County Council has prepared a formal plan to cater for the expected large attendance on Easter Monday. Park and Ride facilities will be available on many approach roads and town centre parking will also be signposted. Many of the town centre streets will, of necessity, be closed to traffic, with diversions in place.

Large viewing screens and public address facilities will strategically located in Market Square and Abbey Square to ensure the public can access and enjoy the various elements of the day's celebrations.

Proceedings are expected to close at approximately 3.30 p.m.

Throughout Easter weekend, the Promenade Festival will take place, with dozens of artisan food and craft stalls expected to locate all along the Promenade, adding to the excitement and atmosphere of the weekend.

The Athenaeum will also host an 'open day' on Easter Saturday, providing a welcome opportunity to the general public to view this newly refurbished iconic building which enjoyed such prominence during the 1916 Rising in Enniscorthy

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