Wexford 1916

Published in Issue 6 (November/December 2015), Letters, Volume 23

Sir,—May I be allowed to offer a gentle rebuke to Joseph E.A. Connell (Countdown to 2016) and the many other historians who promote the view that the 1916 Rising was confined to Dublin? Despite the conflicting orders, the Volunteers in County Wexford assembled on Wednesday 27 April, having confirmed that parts of Dublin had already been occupied. At 4am on the following morning, 150 Volunteers marched up Irish Street in Enniscorthy, where the Proclamation was later read outside their headquarters in the Athenaeum Theatre, and a copy was posted on the Market House. The tricolour was run up over the building. By that afternoon they had complete control of the town, having occupied the castle, and with the RIC besieged in their barracks. Fifty ladies were involved in establishing an emergency hospital and further Volunteer contingents were making their way to Enniscorthy from Wexford, New Ross and Gorey, while the Ferns company, of about 50 men, bivouacked in Ballinahallin wood.

A British force under Colonel French, numbering c. 2,000, made up of a cadet corps, Connaught Rangers and field guns, set out from Wexford but halted at Ferrycarrig, seemingly awaiting developments in Dublin. In the GPO Pearse announced that ‘Wexford has risen and a relief column to march on Dublin is being formed’. By the weekend the area under the control of the Volunteers covered a large part of north County Wexford and a number of RIC barracks had been urgently evacuated.

On Sunday 30 April, the rebels refused a demand to surrender unless ordered to do so by Patrick Pearse, and Volunteers Seán Etchingham and Seamus Doyle were taken, by British military car, to Arbour Hill, where Pearse signed an order for their surrender.

Afterwards 375 people were taken into custody in County Wexford, the majority of whom were jailed in Frongoch and eleven other prisons in England. Henry Goff’s Wexford has risen provides an excellent account.

The Rising in County Wexford was a significant event, with a large number of Volunteers actively involved, and was still in progress after the Dublin surrender. I feel that its historical importance has, to a very great extent, been overlooked by many historians who seem to be, understandably, mesmerised by the extraordinary events in Dublin.—Yours etc.,

EAMON DOYLE
Athlone

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