Sunday 17 December 2017

Wexford Street renaming battle rages on

By David tucker

ABOVE: Thirteen people were in the audience and eight on the top table; LEFT: the man of the moment, Robert Brennan.
ABOVE: Thirteen people were in the audience and eight on the top table; LEFT: the man of the moment, Robert Brennan.
ABOVE: Thirteen people were in the audience and eight on the top table; LEFT: the man of the moment, Robert Brennan.

BALLOT papers are on their way to residents of George Street in Wexford asking them whether or not they want to rename the street to honour one of the heroes of the 1916 Easter Rising, Robert Brennan.

The council says 118 people are eligible to vote, however, that figure is in dispute with members of the 'Yes' camp says many of those on the electoral register have moved away and the figures are out of date.

And they say further clarification is needed on how many votes will need to be cast to carry the ballot, because it's highly unlikely that all 118 people will take part.

The ballots are due to be counted on Friday (February 1) by which time the council hopes it will have all the postal ballots returned.

Meanwhile, the 'Yes' camp has suffered some dissent in its ranks after one of its key lieutenants, historian and author Nickey Furlong, a member of its ad hoc committee, said that he would prefer a monument 'to the renaming of half a street'.

'That would diminish the stature of the man, Robert Brennan. What is owed to him after many decades of neglect in his own birth town is a distinguished, substantial monument of which we can all be proud of to view and display,' said Mr Furlong, whose views have softened from outright support to a more qualified solution.

The 'Yes' camp says the two issues are not mutually exclusive and if they achieve their objective of getting the street renamed they will move on to the issue of creating a permanent memorial to Brennan and his author daughter Maeve, possible on Wexford's Cultural Mile leading to the National Opera House.

Last week, the 'No' camp disputed that Brennan ever lived in George Street and produced census records they said proved their case.

However, the 'Yes' camp responded by saying that is 'a misreading of the 1911 census form'.

'Valuation Office records clearly show that No 1 Upper George Street was occupied by the Brennan family.

'The building incorporated a shop operated by the Brennans which opened on to Abbey Street, while the hall door opened on to George Street,' said Greg Walsh, a member of the ad hoc committee.

'The enumerator clearly called on the shop portion of the building which would have been open during the daytime. Consequently the Brennans were incorrectly returned in Abbey Street because their front door, at No I George Street Upper, would have been closed during the day,' said Greg. The 'No' camp says they too would like to see Brennan honoured, but with a permanent memorial and not through a change in the name of their historic street, the third time such an attempt has been made to rename it. The previous two were voted down.

Local resident Kevin Byrne said he didn't think that renaming the street was the right way to honour Brennan. 'There are much better ways of honouring him than naming a street after him,' said Kevin, 'this seems to have been a very ill thought way of doing it.' On Sunday night, the 'Yes' camp organised an information meeting at the Clayton Whites Hotel to tell anyone interested about Brennan and why he should honoured with the street renaming. However, there was only a small turnout, with the 'Yes' committee and audience almost equally balanced. Brian Ó Cléirigh, a key advocate of the name change, said it was a low-cost option to honour Brennan, a one-time journalist and revolutionary, who took part in the Rising and went on to become ambassador to the United States.

Wexford People

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