Thursday 22 August 2019

Calling all patriots! Your county invites you to join the fight

The Redcoats firing at the Pikemen at the Battle of Vinegar Hill re-enactment last year.
The Redcoats firing at the Pikemen at the Battle of Vinegar Hill re-enactment last year.

Time was (ah, happy days) when the public enjoyed nothing better than a good execution.

Time was (ah, happy days) when the public enjoyed nothing better than a good execution.

Modern sensitivities mean that bloodthirsty ladies no longer gather beneath the guillotine with their knitting.

The gallows have been packed away altogether in this country as capital punishment has not only been struck off the list of popular entertainments but is no longer allowed in privacy either.

So the next best thing on offer is the simulated 'spectacle of gunfire, smoke and carnage' being touted by the bloodthirsty management at the National 1798 Centre in Enniscorthy. In the manner of the late Lord Kitchener, they are recruiting hard – your county needs you, and needs you urgently.

Centre manager Jacqui Hynes cannot match Kitchener's magnificent moustache as she invites men, women and children of all ages to attend an initial meeting at the 1798 Centre on Friday, February 28.

On the other hand, the fresh-faced Ms. Hynes is offering the prospect of a weekend of fun while the general was holding out the dismal prospect of death and disability in a muddy trench.

All those who sign up will need to clear their diaries of all other diversions for the August Bank Holiday. That is when she and her colleagues are due to lead their volunteers into action at the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Vinegar Hill.

This is an attraction which is becoming bigger and bigger business year by year.

The 2013 run of 'Rebels versus Redcoats' was blessed by fine weather and attracted around 6,000 spectators to Slaneyside.

The past was brought to violent life, complete with pikes and smoking muskets, in the streets of the town as well as on the slopes of Vinegar Hill. It was great fun – and many an ear is still ringing from the cacophony of explosions from cannon and firearm.

On that occasion, around 200 local volunteers signed up to join the regular re-enactors who came from Britain as well as Ireland to camp in the 1798 centre and march around the battle sites.

The pike crew were impeccably drilled for their work in facing up to the awesome firepower of the British army as the United Irishmen met military might with raw courage. Now is the time to enlist and turn the 200 into 400, 600, maybe 1,000 – the more the merrier. Friday's meeting will be given an outline of battle plans for this summer's event, including new fringe events for the 2014 re-enactment, along with details of rebellious participation in the Enniscorthy St. Patrick's Day Parade, which will be used to promote the August event.

Jacqui Hynes will also be looking for a repeat of the warm hospitality Enniscorthy extended to everyone who came from beyond the county boundary to take part last year. 'For many of the international re-enactors, last year was their first time in Ireland and they were taken aback by the welcome they received in Enniscorthy,' says Jacqui who is standing by once more to receive dedicated re-enactors from Ireland, England Scotland and Wales. 'The participation of our pikemen is also important, and is a chance to be up-close-and-personal to the action.' Pike units will be drilled at various locations throughout the county.

She said that the organisers will welcome suggestions for other fringe events or activities. She is also happy to field offers of investment as well as taking on the manpower required to help create what she calls 'the most spectacular festival in this year's calendar'. For more information or to register your support as a rebel, or as a member of the support crew, please contact the National 1798 Rebellion Centre on (053)9237597 or email

Wexford People

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