Friday 24 November 2017

Backroads to Rising groups to converge at Abbey Square

By Esther Hayden

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.

The ambitious Backroads to the Rising project is a unique community commemorative event being presented as part of Wexford County Council's official commemoration programme for Easter Monday 2016.

It will take place from five locations across the county and all five routes will converge in Abbey Square in Enniscorthy at 10.30 a.m.

The project is devised and coordinated by artists Aileen Lambert and Michael Fortune and they are calling on everyone across the county to get involved and 'let's set the heather blazing!'

The walking and cycling event is inspired by journeys undertaken by men and women of Wexford during the 1916 Rising.

Each route has been devised to suit cyclists and walkers of all ages and abilities. There are three journey options from which you can choose; 'The Cycle' - five different routes, on average 25km; 'The Long Walk' - five different routes, on average 12km; or 'The Short Walk' option - five routes on average 2.5km.

Each route has been named in honour of people from across the county who played a significant role in The Rising.

The five routes are: The Seamus Rafter Route - Bunclody to Ballindaggin to Enniscorthy; The Séan Etchingham Route - Gorey to Ferns to Enniscorthy; The Lar Redmond Route - Kilmuckridge to Oulart to Enniscorthy: The Úna Brennan Route - Wexford to Oylegate to Enniscorthy and The Philip Lennon Route - New Ross to Clonroche to Enniscorthy.

A brochure with the starting times, distances, and meeting points has been produced to help interested people select their route.

Cyclists can choose the longer distance routes and start in either Bunclody, Gorey, Kilmuckridge, Wexford or New Ross, while the 'Long Walks' have been scheduled to start in Ballindaggin, Ferns, Oulart, Oylegate and Clonroche, with each route having a join-in point along the way. Those who favour the 'Short Walks' can join in at The Milehouse, The Baked Potato on the Old Dublin Road, Vinegar Hill, St Senan's Hospital and Enniscorthy Golf Club.

Groups such as community development groups, 1916 commemoration groups, sporting organisations, GAA clubs, schools, Mens' Sheds groups, active retirement groups, walking groups, ICA, scouts, guides etc are all encouraged and asked to register their interest with Michael and Aileen.

'This is a great way to represent your place, your community on this historic occasion - wear you team jersey, carry a tricolor, be yourself - you choose how to represent yourself or your group,' they say.

Stories which have inspired the project include accounts of journeys undertaken in County Wexford during The Rising. Máire Deegan cycled from Askamore to Dublin days before Peter Paul Galligan cycled from the GPO to Enniscorthy with reports of The Rising in Dublin - the catalyst for the Volunteers to take over the town of Enniscorthy.

Tales of journeys surviving in local oral culture include the journey of a young Lar Redmond of Morriscastle, Kilmuckridge, who set off on his bike with a shotgun and a handful of cartridges to cycle to Enniscorthy the day before the Rising began there.

You can download a copy of the Backroads to the Rising brochure from the project website while hard copies are available from Wexford Libraries.

A public Facebook event has been set up for each of the five routes on the 'Backroads to the Rising' Facebook page. 'So, if you're on Facebook you can invite or tag friends and community groups in your area to get involved in the route connected to you', says Michael.

Contact Aileen on 087 7552593 or Mick on 087 6470247.

Wexford People

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