By Dan Walsh on Vinegar Hill
It was cold and windy on Vinegar Hill this afternoon where Enniscorthy Municipal District Council hosted a flag raising ceremony to commemorate the 174th anniversary of the first time the Irish Tricolor were flown from the famous Enniscorthy landmark.
The short ceremony was lead by Cllr Cathal Byrne, Cathaoirleach, Enniscorthy Municipal District Council, who spoke briefly about the event while Bernie Quigley, Acting District Manager, welcomed the invited gathering.
The Tricolor was raised by 2nd Lieut. Zara Bolger and Sgt. John Cooney from the Irish Defence Forces.
The attendance included Cllrs Jackser Owens, John O’Rourke and Kathleen Codd-Nolan, Minister James Browne, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Johnny Mythen, Garda Superintendent Denis Whelan, Garda Sergeant Colum Matthews, Mr Sean Doyle, Chairman of Enniscorthy Castle and Irish National 1798 Rebellion Centre Committee and members of the Enniscorthy Historical Re-Enactment Society.
Speaking at the brief ceremony, local historian Brian Cleary told the gathering that in February 1848, there was again revolution in Paris and the Second Republic was born. “Revolution spread to much of Europe and tricolurs of various colours were appearing in several countries. Thomas Francis Meaghar and William Smith O’Brien were in Paris to observe the strategy of the revolutionaries, As they prepared to return home, a group of French ladies made them a tricolor advocating peace between the religious persuasions in Ireland, symbolised by the Green and Orange with the White in between.”
Mr Cleary recalled his days in Enniscorthy CBS in 1958 and remembers “the late lamented and deservedly revered Micheál Tóibín telling us that the Irish Tricolor was unfurled publicly in Enniscorthy in 1848.”
“We have solid evidence for this statement,” said Mr Cleary, who added; “as the flag featured in a public parade in the town (Enniscorthy) on the same evening it was unfurled in Waterford – Tuesday, March 7th 1848.”
Contemporary newspaper reports said “Enniscorthy was a scene of splendid rejoicings. Numerous crowds paraded through the streets, with tar-barrels burning and a tri-color flag up for the occasion. There were also several tar-barrels burning on Vinegar Hill. There fires were on the highest rocks. Everything was conducted with order and regularity.”