French ambassador unveils 1798 plaque
French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thébault nailed his tricolour firmly to the mast in Wexford last week when he said that the county was his second most visited in Ireland outside his normal diplomatic base of operations in Dublin.
The ambassador was in Wexford for the official opening of Wexford Chamber's showpiece building on Hill Street at the site of the old Dr Furlong's home and for the re-dedication of plaque commemorating the deaths of 57 people killed by Crown forces at what was the location of an infirmary for rebel wounded during the 1798 Rebellion.
Speaking in warm sunshine and with a gentle breeze stirring the tricolour flags of both countries, Chamber chief executive Madeleine Quirke said the ambassador was in Wexford, in part to honour and mark the support French soldiers gave to the United Irishmen in 1798.
The plaque, she said, was being re-dedicated in memory of all those who lost their lives.
Mayor Cllr Ger Carthy said 57 wounded insurgents were killed when forces under the command of General Lake set fire to the infirmary, in one of a number of such terrible incidents during a bloody period in Wexford's history.
The commemorative plaque is sent on a wall at near the front of the new locally-designed and built Chamber offices, the old and the new, side by side.
'Today, we are remembering the past, but we are also looking forward to the future,' said Cllr Carthy.
The ambassador spoke of the shared and common values between France and Ireland, of their long and historic connections and the support that France had received when it was in need during two world wars. He praised Wexford Chamber for its role in furthering the aspirations of a county to which he was a frequent visitor.
'Wexford really has something that can attract visitors from overseas,' he said, adding that his attendance at the ceremonies was a sign of the close support and ties between the two tricolour nations.
Among the many guests at the event, was Sinn Fein Councillor Anthony Kelly, attending one of his first functions since his recovery following a series of strokes earlier this year.