National 1798 is open…worth a visit!

By Dan Walsh

The much publicised ‘sale’ of the National 1798 Rebellion Centre at Arnold’s Cross, Enniscorthy, is off… and the mirage of confusing media reports have subsided…for now, so it is high time to show appreciation for this historic  place with a family visit!

NATIONAL 1798 REBELLION CENTRE at Enniscorthy is open to visitors.

The future of the centre may not be out of the woods yet, but one practical means of sustainability and growing the iconic building into an even greater public attraction is to boost the visitor numbers. Feet on the floor and numbers through the door is the key to survival.

The Centre is open to the public from Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 5 pm, and at weekends and bank holidays from 12 noon till 5 pm. The last admission is at 4.15 pm daily, No booking required.

That said, the Centre tells the story of the 1798 Rebellion, the leaders and the skirmishes, the cannons and guns used, and an opportunity to experience how the battles shaped our history.

The concept of the Centre was initiated at a meeting of the Board of Directors on Comoradh ’98 in 1991, and the late Cllr Andy Doyle and Town Clerk, Donal Minnock, spearheaded the project and oversaw the purchase of the old Christian Brothers monastery.
A framework document was developed by the local librarians and historians under the chairmanship of Nicholas Furlong, and Wexford native, Matthew O’Connor, Managing Director of the National Building Agency, prepared a design and layout for the building, which included the old monastery building, which came into the possession of the brothers’ in 1894.
The Friends of ’98, headed by Rich Howlin, were charged with raising £1m needed to draw down £1.6m, which had been secured from the European Regional Development Fund.
The Wexford Senate was used to raise the £1m, and the names of every senator was engraved on the walls of the new Visitor Centre (it has since been re-named the National 1798 Rebellion Centre), and the paint is as fresh today as it was when first applied…well, almost – but a once-off remarkable piece of family name history.
Tenders were advertised in March 1997; construction work commenced in May; the building programme was completed in December, and the interpretive design created by Event, a Dublin-based company, was completed over three months.
The audio-visual presentation placed the story of 1798 in an international context and was admired as a fascinating journey to modern democracy.

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