Sea monster seen in Ferns

The Festival of Ferns parade from the cathedral to the castle filled the air with atmosphere and ancient character.

By Dan Walsh in Ferns

The mid-day Bank Holiday parade was always going to be the highlight for many at the Festival of Ferns and the signs were positive long before the spectacle begins as families lined the streets and took up vantage viewing areas from early morning.

Setting off from the grounds of St. Eden’s Cathedral the parade invoked elements from the legend of St. Aidan and St. David and a representation of the crossing between Ireland and Wales back in the distant centuries.

The giant sea monster with moving mouth and large body carried a chain of performers accompanied by dancers animating fins and waves, bringing the sea monster to life.

The Horsemen of Éire cut quite a dash during the parade, dressed in medieval costume, and they did a jousting exhibition as the crowds gathered in the grounds of Ferns Castle.

Knight in period dress Paul Walsh played an exceptional role as master of ceremonies as he explained the historical features of Diarmait MacMurrough and Eva, the skills of the young hurling athletes, and generating the atmosphere beneath a clear blue sky and intense heat.

The Festival of Ferns was officially opened in the grounds of Ferns Castle on Monday by Cathaoirleach of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council, Cllr Aidan Browne, who pointed out that “This is very much a community driven project between the local Ferns Heritage Project, with the help of funding from the Ancient Connections programme,”

Ancient Connections is a 4-year EU funded project led by Wexford County Council and Pembrokeshire County Council (Wales) which aims to revive the ancient links between these two Celtic communities.

The two-day festival opened on Sunday with a top-class concert in St. Eden’s Cathedral, Ferns, featuring The Allabair Trio with vocalist Melanie O’Reilly, guitarist David Creevy and Uilleann piper Brewen Favreau, with guest local choir the Chord on Blues, and the concert premiered a new song cycle composed by Melanie alongside O’Carolan pieces and other favourites.

Speaking to at Ferns, Melanie O’Reilly was very impressed by the enthusiasm shown at the concert. “We had a full house, and everyone enjoyed the concert. Great atmosphere. Thanks to Ferns for a great weekend,” she stated.

Participants in the festival included Ancient Connections/Ceangal Ársa/Cysylltiadau Hynafol, Lantern, Wexford County Council, Fearna Men’s Shed, Dunn Create, Small World Theatre, Horsemen of Éire, Medieval Ferns Experience, Enniscorthy Historical Re-enactment Society, Chord on Blues, Span Arts, Deirdre Furlong’s Dance School, Helena Dunbar’s School of Music and Bloco Garman. 

Battle of Bunclody ’98 remembered

Fr. Lar O’Connor and Rev. Canon Trevor Sargent prepare for prayers while the pikemen form a guard of honour at the 1798 memorial in Bunclody.

By Dan Walsh at Bunclody

St. Colman’s Pipe Band, Ballindaggin, led by Pipe Major Jim Byrne and the Bunclody/Kilrush/Kilmyshal Pike Group under the command of Group Leader Walter Skelton led the commemorative pike march in Bunclody this evening (Sunday) to remember the Battle of Newtownbarry (Bunclody) which broke out on June 1st, 1798.

The Battle of Bunclody or Newtownbarry as it was then called, took place on June 1st, 1798, when a force of some 5,000 rebels led by Fr Mogue Kearns attacked the garrison at Bunclody as part of the Wexford rebels campaign against border garrisons.

The first wreath was laid at the ’98 memorial on Chapel Road where the inscription reads; “Erected to the memory of the pikemen of 1798. A.D. 1875.” The honours were bestowed on two of the youngest pikemen during the bicentenary in 1998 – Matthew Skelton and Ciarán Kelly.

Th second wreath was laid by Ian Kidd and Kate Skelton at the 1938 plaque on Bunclody bridge. The inscription (as Gaeilge and English) reads; “Erected to the memory of the men who fell fighting for Ireland at Bunclody on June 1st, 1798.”

Very Rev. Laurence O’Connor, Parish Priest of Bunclody, and The Reverend Canon Trevor Sargent, Rector, Bunclody Union of Parishes recited prayers at both sites. The attendance also included retired priest and historian, Canon Seamus S. de Bhal.

Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy, who also took part in the pike march, acted as master of ceremonies and explained a brief history of the battle. Apparently, about 250 people died in the battle and were interred in a mass grave beside the River Slaney where the 1938 plaque is located, but in 1875 when the bridge was rebuilt the bodies were exhumed and reburied in the graveyard on Chapel Road where a Celtic Cross stands proudly in the western corner, hence the significance on two wreath laying choices.

The wreaths were presented for laying by Aoife and Emer Nolan while Adam Fitzpatrick presented a bunch of flowers to Gloria Binions at the proceedings in The Square where the ceremonies ended.

Seamus Kelly read a poem; “The Battle of Newtownbarry (Bunclody)’, Niall Wall gave a rousing rendition of Boolavogue and the Ballindaggin Pipe Band played Amhrán na bFiann.

Afterwards, proprietor Michael Kehoe generously sponsored complimentary refreshments for all at the Rivers Edge restaurant.

Ballindaggin Pipe Band and Bunclody/Kilrush/Kilmyshal pike group marching to the Battle of Bunclody grave site this evening.

Wexford Remembers 1798 at Enniscorthy

By Dan Walsh at Enniscorthy

1798 remembrance at Market Square, Enniscorthy.

Two wreaths from Wexford Remembers 1798 Group and the Connolly Youth Movement were laid at the Father Murphy and the Croppy Boy memorial in Market Square, Enniscorthy, today, (Sunday) as part of the 225th 1798 Rebellion commemorations taking place across County Wexford.

Chairman, Gary O’Brien from Wexford, gave a brief account of the memorial which has stood in this spot for 115 years, two wreaths were laid, the flags were ceremoniously lowered, and the event concluded with Amhrán na bFiann.

Speaking to, Mr O’Brien said the group was formed as Wexford Remembers 1916 and then it was decided to mark the events of 1798 and today’s events in Enniscorthy are the first under the Wexford Remembers 1798 banner and he was pleased at the turnout.

Earlier Owen Dunbar led a tour of Vinegar Hill and archaeologist Byron Jones, gave a detailed explanation of the 2017 survey and dig of the battlefield site. A poetry reading and the playing of a lament by an uilleann piper closed off the Vinegar Hill element of the day.

Events concluded at the IFA Centre on Mill Park Road, where Dr Kerron Ó Luain, the author of ‘Rathcoole and the United Irish Rebellions, 1798 – 1803′ gave a public talk on the 1798 Rebellion.

Wreath to Fr Murphy and the Croppy Boy

By Dan Walsh

The 1798 commemorations are continuing at Enniscorthy on Sunday and activities organised by Wexford Remembers 1798 includes laying a wreath at the prominent 1798 memorial in Market Square at 12.45pm marking the 115th year of its presence.

The bronze monument features Fr John Murphy encouraging a young rebel, known locally as The Croppy Boy, the work of celebrated sculptor Oliver Sheppard, (1865-1941), unveiled in front of an estimated 20,000 people by Fr. Patrick Kavanagh on Sunday, May 31st, 1908.

A contemporary quote says it all; “It was particularly fitting that a priest and a peasant should stand together united as they stood in the bitter bygone days of 1798, when they fought side-by-side for faith and fatherland. It was God’s decree that the people of Ireland should be allowed to carry out their own affairs without interference from anyone”. Source; Oliver Sheppard, (1865-1941) by John Turpin, page 111, published by Four Courts Press, 2000. ISBN for the book is 1-85182-573-8.

The 1798 memorial – Fr John Murphy and the Croppy Boy – in Enniscorthy’s Market Square. (Pic;

Sunday’s day of remembrance begins at 10.30am when local historian, Owen Dunbar, will host a walking tour of Vinegar Hill.

This will be followed by the archaeologist Byron Jones, giving a detailed explanation of the 2017 survey and dig of the battlefield site. A poetry reading and the playing of a lament by an uilleann piper will close off the Vinegar Hill element of the day.

The second event of the day, which will take place at 12.45 p.m., will see a commemorative wreath laid at the Croppy Boy and Father Murphy statue in Market Square, Enniscorthy.

Following that ceremony, the focus of attention will turn to the IFA Centre on Mill Park Road, at 1.30pm where Dr Kerron Ó Luain, the author of ‘Rathcoole and the United Irish Rebellions, 1798 – 1803′, will give a public talk on the 1798 Rebellion.

Speaking in relation to the day’s commemorative events, Gary O’Brien, from ‘Wexford Remembers 1798’ told; “These events will commemorate the thousands of men, women and children, who gave their lives for what was then a new ideal – an Irish Republic inspired and supported by the French Revolution. A Republic which united Catholic, Protestant and those with no religion.”

Mr O’Brien said the rank and file on the republican side were mainly made up the urban and rural poor who had the most to gain from revolutionary change – the people who Wolfe Tone described as ‘the men of no property’.

“It is very important that the current generation of Irish citizens keep alive the memory and the sacrifice of those who died that we might all be free,” said Mr O’Brien.

“Wexford has a unique history when it comes to the 1798 Rebellion, something which all of the people of Wexford should be immensely proud,” he added.

“On behalf of Wexford Remembers 1798, I’d like to invite everyone along to all of our family friendly events on Sunday, June 4th, he concluded.

Wexford asked to conserve water

Due to the current high demand for water as a result of the current warm spell, Uisce Éireann is urging communities across Wexford to conserve water to protect supply and reduce the risk of outages.

High usage can lead to pressure reductions which can impact the supply to customers. Supplies across the county are vulnerable to high demand during the summertime.  

A watering can uses a lot less water than a hose pipe

Speaking to, Uisce Éireann’s Regional Asset Operations Lead, Ronan Walsh said; “We are appealing to customers to conserve water to give the reservoirs time to replenish. We have had a very dry period and with the warmer weather currently being experienced and more forecasted, supplies will come under further pressure. Any reduction that customers can make in their usage can collectively result in significant supply improvements for all customers. I would ask that everyone in Wexford play their part to help conserve water this summer.”

There are several easy steps people can take to reduce their water usage during the hot weather, including: Avoid power washing and keep the garden hose in the shed.

Check for leaks on outdoor taps or troughs as these can lead to large losses of treated water.

Remember that paddling pools and swimming pools can use huge volumes of water so try to minimise the amount of water used and consider reusing the water for the garden or cleaning the car.

Members of the public can report any leaks in the public water network by contacting Uisce Éireann 24/7 at 1800 278 278 or on

All safe and well in sailing yacht rescue

Rosslare Harbour RNLI volunteers (Pic; RNLI/Larry Dunne).

By Dan Walsh

Rosslare Harbour RNLI lifeboat responded to a request from the Irish Coast Guard at 2.27pm on Tuesday to assist a 44-foot-long sailing yacht with three people on board after it developed mechanical difficulties.

The lifeboat was launched at 2.45pm and reached the scene in Ballytrent Bay at 2.55pm.

The sea was rough at the time with a Force 6-7 north-easterly wind. Visibility was good.

The vessel was towed to the nearest safe port at Rosslare Harbour. A tow line was secured at 3pm and the vessel was safely dropped alongside at 3.50pm.

All three-yacht crew were wearing flotation devices and were safe and well.

Speaking following the call out, Jamie Ryan, Rosslare Harbour RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: “We are enjoying some wonderful weather and would encourage everyone planning a strip on the water to go prepared. We would stress the importance of wearing proper flotation devices and having good communication equipment when at sea.”

Paul Nolan’s winning favourite

By Dan Walsh at Wexford Races

Joyeux Machin (11/10 favourite) was scored a popular local success in a hurdle race for trainer Paul Nolan and Enniscorthy brothers, Jim and Sam McCauley running in the colours of Rectory Road Holdings Ltd, impressively by seven lengths at Wexford races this evening with Wexford jockey Sean Flanagan in the saddle.

PAUL NOLAN saddled a winner at Wexford races this evening.

“He travelled and jumped well. Hopefully that trip will just have him more in his comfort zone. We will keep him going now and touch wood he stays right. He will probably go for a beginners chase on his next run, and we will see where we go from there”, said Paul Nolan afterwards.

Tinahely trainer Philip Rothwell scored with 17/2 shot Away To Milan (Simon Torrens up) in the second division of the handicap hurdle. Six lengths the verdict. Afterwards Rothwell said; “I felt I was getting good at training horses to finish second! Coming down here tonight I thought this lad had a decent chance. He made two mistakes the last day and tonight looked like a lesser contest really.

“I’ll probably give him a break now for a month as he is a big raw five-year-old. He won nicely and it’s great to get a winner. The horses are flying, and that’s my third winner of the season,” he concluded.

Gordon Elliott, who was present on the track, supplied a 1-2 in the rated hurdle with As Tears Go By (13/2) and Corey McGivern getting the better of I A Connect by a neck!

Trainer Robert Tyner and jockey Philip Enright won the handicap hurdle for John P. McManus with Search For A Myth (9/2 joint-favourite) depriving Philip Rothwell of a double as Warm in Gorey finished runner-up beaten two and a half lengths.

Hartur D’arc (4/1) ridden by Darragh O’Keeffe for the Thomas Gibney stables Trim, Co. Meath stables, were followed home by two Wexford runners – Liz Doyle’s High City Roller (Sean Flanagan) and Bob The Builder with Ross Berry up. Only a neck separated the first two across the line.

The handicap hurdle went to Tramore and John Flavin’s Midnight Our Fred (11/2) while the bumper went the day of Mousey Brown (10/1) for Dermot McLoughlin from Meath. Jack Hendrick took the runner-up spot with Down Around, owned and bred by Noel Dooly from Courtnacuddy, Enniscorthy. Just a short-head separated them.

Next racing at Bettyville Park is a two-day fixture on Tuesday, June 20th (daytime) and Wednesday, June 21st (evening).

World premiere opens Festival of Ferns

By Dan Walsh

The Festival of Ferns is a two-day festival on Sunday and Monday next weekend – which is the June Bank Holiday – and it opens with a unique concert, a world premiere performance in the beautiful setting of St. Eden’s Cathedral, Ferns, on Sunday starting at 7.30pm.

Featuring The Allabair Trio with vocalist Melanie O’Reilly, guitarist David Creevy and uilleann piper Brewen Favreau, with guest local choir the Chord On Blues, the concert will premiere a new song cycle composed by Melanie alongside O’Carolan pieces and other favourites.

This is very much a community driven project where local group the Ferns Heritage Project, with the help of funding from the Ancient Connections programme, commissioned the piece and introduced a unique approach to the process.

The concept of the song cycle was inspired by the stories and connection between St. Aidan (St. Maodoc) of Ferns and St. David in Wales. The approach to composing the song cycle was unusual in that it involved Melanie conducting workshops in both St. David’s and Ferns over the past year.  This was an authentic process of research and development in rehearsal and something new to Melanie’s method of composing.

“When contacted by the Ferns Heritage Project, the concept excited me because I had already been working on a piece associated with St. Aidan and was excited by the prospect of delving deeper into the life of St. Aidan and his relationship with St. David”, Melanie said.

Linking the local ‘Chord On Blues’ choir with Melanie O’Reilly and The Allabair Trio was a win-win for all. Mary Moulds, leader of the choir said; “it was an incredible opportunity for our choir to work with musicians of the calibre of Melanie and The Allabair Trio. It has challenged us; it has given us confidence and it has helped us to see our potential and to continue to challenge ourselves.  The overall ethos of our choir has always been to make anything we did enjoyable for everyone involved and to give people of all musical abilities a chance to shine”.  

Information on how to book tickets for the concert in the Cathedral can be found on Details on festival events including music in local music on June 4th as well as headline events on Monday, June 5th to include a fantastic parade with giant puppets, re-enactment and outdoor performances can also be accessed on website and social media.

Bride and groom on the crest of a wave

Trevor Devereux and Michelle Hinchy sharing wedding day memories with Kilmore Quay’s Tamar class all-weather lifeboat, Killarney.

By Dan Walsh

Kilmore Quay RNLI Lifeboat lovers, Michelle Hinchy and Trevor Devereux switched their lifejackets and yellow wellies for wedding day finery in a beautiful marriage ceremony in the presence of family and friends.

Between them the bride and groom have over 50 years voluntary service with Kilmore Quay RNLI. Michelle, currently the station’s only female crew member, is also training to become a lifeboat navigator. Trevor is a qualified lifeboat Coxswain and mechanic, and alongside his volunteering duties, recently took up the role of Regional Resilience Coxswain Mechanic working at other lifeboat stations when needed.

Speaking following their wedding, Michelle said; “We had a wonderful day. The RNLI is a huge part of our lives, and it was odd not to be carrying a pager today but fantastic to celebrate with all our family, friends and especially our RNLI family, some that had travelled from far and wide to be here.”

Members of the station team were delighted to join the happy couple on their special day and the whole crew extend their best wishes to Trevor and Michelle for continued happiness in their life together.

John Grace, Kilmore Quay RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: ‘Michelle and Trevor are very much a part of our RNLI family here in Kilmore Quay. All of us at the station send them our congratulations and wish them fair winds and following seas.”

Wednesday racing at Wexford

By Dan Walsh

Bettyville Park plays host to a promising midweek Wednesday jump racing seven-race card with the first race off at 5.30pm.

There is a warm dry forecast which creates the ideal opportunity for families and a large attendance while the track is undergoing a watering programme to ensure safe conditions and the going is described as “good.”

5.30pm; The Wexford Racecourse Rated Hurdle of €17,000, 2 miles 1½ furlongs (8 runners).

6pm; The Boylesports Handicap Hurdle (Division 1) of €10,500, 2 miles 1½ furlongs (14 runners).

6.30pm; The Boylesports Handicap Hurdle (Division 2) of €10,500, 2 miles 1½ furlongs (14 runners).

7pm; The Wexford Racecourse Supporters Club Maiden Hurdle of €10,500, 2 miles 4 furlongs (9 runners).

7.30pm; The Support The Irish Injured Jockeys Maiden Hurdle of €12,000, 3 miles (5 runners).

8pm; The Country Fest Wexford August 13th Handicap Hurdle of €10,500, 3 miles (14 runners).

8.30pm; The Racing Again June 20th Flat Race of €10,500, 2 miles 4 furlongs (14 runners).