Save the Ballyhogue Famine Wall

By Dan Walsh

President Donald Trump would be welcome in Ballyhogue where Wexford County Council has granted approval to commence a process to save a protected structure in the shape of a wall built as part of famine relief works in Ballyhogue.

The Ballyhogue Famine Wall or Bellevue estate boundary wall, about one kilometre long, remains substantially intact and in reasonable condition was built circa-1845-1850 of brick and lime mortar construction.

Known locally as Bellevue Famine Wall and Lane it is considered to be of special architectural, historical, cultural and social interest and encloses the old Cliffe estate adjoining the banks of the Slaney.

According to ‘Landowners of Ireland’, originally published in Dublin in 1876, two separate entries for Bellevue record Anthony Cliffe (died 1878) in possession of 3,459 acres and his eldest son, Anthony John  Cliffe (1832-1894) with 1,000 acres – making a combined acreage of 4,459.

Bellevue House, which consisted of nine reception rooms and eight bedrooms, and was fitted with electricity, was maliciously destroyed by fire on January 23rd, 1923. The last occupant was Anthony Loftus Cliffe.

In court proceedings that followed, B.J. O’Flaherty solicitors, Enniscorthy, told the Court that they had acted for the Cliffes since 1887. It was stated that 1,000 acres were attached to the mansion, but 719 acres had been sold.

Bellevue Church and the Famine Wall are among the last vestiges of the landed estate system in Co. Wexford.

Valentine Gill CLIFFE ESTATE map from 1822 clearly shows the Bellevue Famine Wall and Lane.

The gates are open but nobody at home!

By Dan Walsh

The gates are wide open, the fish are leaping merrily in the pond on either side of the Bridge of Democracy, but it is ‘press your nose up against the window’ time to catch a glimpse of the interior of the National 1798 Rebellion Centre at Enniscorthy.

WEXFORD COUNTY COUNCIL CEO TOM ENRIGHT said ; If the 5,000 petition signatures supporting the National 1798 Rebellion Centre at Enniscorthy had paid their way into the Centre it would have been a more positive approach towards keeping the door open.”

Wexford County Council is refraining from any kind of hysterical celebration about the news that “the sale is off” while only a tiny number of locals have bothered to show any kind of emotion. So where do we go from here?

CEO Tom Enright told Monday’s meeting of Wexford County Council that if the 5,000 signatures that appeared on a recent social media petition had visited the Centre in person it would have been a more positive approach to keeping the door open.

Mr Enright pointed out that the future of the National 1798 Rebellion Centre rests firmly with the members of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council.

However, he added that there is a plan for tourism in Enniscorthy and a whole inclusion of the 1798 heritage is incorporated.

The 1798 Centre saga has been festering for a number of years – falling visitor numbers and lack of local and national interest – and as Carolyne Godkin, Acting Director of Services, told the recent meeting of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council; “there is not enough revenue coming in to pay the electric bill.”

No sale. No plan. Stalemate; where goes the National 1798 Centre into 2021 and the following years?

It has been rumoured that the Fr Murphy Centre at Boolavogue could become the National 1798 Rebellion Centre, and my spies in that patriotic part of the county inform me that funding has been applied for, so perhaps, the future of Wexford and 1798 could still lie in ‘heart of the action’ country.

Cllr Leonard Kelly is Mayor of Wexford

In his first term of office following election on an Independent ticket in 2017, Cllr Leonard Kelly is honoured with the title Mayor of Wexford which was bestowed on him at the annual general meeting of Wexford Borough District Council.

MAYOR OF WEXFORD CLLR LEONARD KELLY following his election

The Clonard-man had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 local election and the 2016 general election and his main priority is “to support and strengthen the community.”

Mayor Kelly said; “We need to unify the Borough, work together, and put our best foot forward for the town and county of Wexford.”

Sinn Fein’s Cllr Thomas Forde, who was co-opted into Wexford County Council in place of retiring Cllr Anthony Kelly in 2017, holds the position of Deputy Mayor.

SOUNDBITE

Cllr Frank Staples takes over at Rosslare

Rosslare Municipal District Council has a new Cathaoirleach following the departure of Cllr Ger Carthy, who has become Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council at the annual general meeting held in ‘the Street’ at County Hall, Wexford.

CLLR FRANK STAPLES is elected Cathaoirleach of Rosslare Municipal District Council

The honour falls to Cllr Frank Staples from Ballymore-Mayglass, a former Fine Gael Director of Elections at local, Dáil and European levels.

Well-known for his outspoken support for better mental health services and support across the region, he is also a busy community activist.

As a farmer, Cllr Staples has “concerns about the Green policies for rural Ireland” but aims to do his best for all of Rosslare District over the coming year.

First elected to Wexford County Council in 2014, Cllr Staples launched the ASK campaign three years ago.

Leas-Cathaoirleach for Rosslare District for 2020-’21 is Cllr Lisa McDonald.

SOUNDBITE

Cllr Michael Whelan is New Ross Chair

Ballycullane -based Cllr Michael Whelan was elected Cathaoirleach of New Ross Municipal District Council, a position he previously served in 2016-’17, at the annual general meeting held in ‘distancing’ at ‘the Street’, Carricklawn, Wexford.

CLLR MICHAEL WHELAN is the new Cathaoirleach of New Ross Municipal District Council

Cllr Whelan was first elected for Fianna Fáil in 2014 and has a background in the construction trade.

He served on the board of Hook Heritage and Hook Rural Tourism and was a parents’ representative on the Board of Management of St. Mary’s Secondary School, New Ross.

Cllr Whelan priorities include the protection of rural communities, promoting tourism and job creation.

Cllr Bridín Murphy from Ballymackessey, Clonroche, first elected a year ago, is the Leas-Cathaoirleach.

Cllr Barbara-Anne is Enniscorthy choice

Bunclody-based Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy is the new Cathaoirleach for the Enniscorthy District following her selection from the six-member group at the annual general meeting held in ‘the Street’ at Carricklawn, Wexford, in social distance settings.

CLLR BARBARA-ANNE MURPHY is new Cathaoirleach of Enniscorthy Municipal District Council

Outgoing Cathaoirleach Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan takes the Leas-Cathaoirleach position making it a good day for gender equality. Cllr Murphy is one of the longest serving councillors in the county with a seat on Wexford County Council from 2004 to 2009 and again from 2014 until the present day.

“There are a lot of things that need to be done in the Enniscorthy district and I look forward to working with District Manager Ger Mackey,” she said.

AUDIO EXTRA

Cllr Joe Sullivan leads Gorey-Kilmuckridge

Cllr Joe Sullivan took over the chair at Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District Council when Malcolm Byrne was elected to Dail Éireann, however, he has had a quiet time as the pandemic closed everything down, but today he was re-elected to the position at the annual general meeting held in ‘the Street’ at Carricklawn, Wexford.

CLLR JOE SULLIVAN was elected Cathaoirleach for Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District

A councillor since 2014, Cllr Sullivan claims there are plenty of challenges in the Gorey district is massive and runs along the east coast from Coolgreany to Ballymurn and dozens of townlands in between.

Priorities included developing Esmonde Street into ‘the fashion capital of the south east’, moving forward projects such as the Town Park and the Market House, sorting out housing issues in the district and completing the footpath between Gorey and Courtown.

Leas-Cathaoirleach for Gorey-Kilmuckridge is Cllr Oliver Walsh.

AUDIO EXTRA;

‘Frontline worker’ honoured at Council AGM

By Dan Walsh

The newly elected Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council is Cllr Ger Carthy, a ‘frontline worker’ from the Rosslare District who defeated Cllr Oliver Walsh (Gorey-Kilmuckridge District) by 22 votes to 9 at the 123rd annual general meeting of Wexford County Council held in two-metre distancing arrangements in ‘the Street’ at County Hall, Carricklawn, today.

CLLR GARRY LAFFAN (Leas-Cathaoirleach) and CLLR GER CARTHY (Cathaoirleach) elected at the annual general meeting of Wexford County Council.

In a moving maiden speech Cllr Carthy paid  tribute to his proposer and seconder and his family before complimenting the local authority and its ‘frontline’ staff who ensured that the community felt safe and looked after their local communities to ensure that vulnerable people were protected at a surreal and unprecedented time.

Cllr Carthy said; “Over the past number of months Wexford County Council rose to an unprecedented and once in a lifetime challenge that the people of this county and this country faced. Now that we are thankfully leaving the dark and scary days of March, April and May and early June moving into the new norm, we as public representatives face new challenges, that is to ensure that all local authorities, including Wexford County Council by a new government that was appointed last Saturday.”

“Covid 19 has caused heartbreak for many families in recent months and I want to express  my deep sympathy to all those who suffered bereavements during this period of restriction and were not able to mourn or indeed celebrate the lives of their loved ones in traditional Irish style.

“Alongside personal tragedies, which families suffered have been economic turmoil caused by measures introduced that were necessary to contain this virus. Many businesses, particularly those in retail and tourism sectors, which is really the backbone of the Wexford economy has suffered a huge blow and large numbers will struggle even to remain viable. Small businesses will require urgent and ongoing support from central government if they are to survive and we are to avoid large scale job losses across County Wexford,” he concluded.

Many tributes were paid to Cllr Carthy from fellow Rosslare District member Cllr Frank Staples, Cllr George Lawlor, who proposed the new chairman, ‘former school colleague’ Cllr Lisa McDonald and Cllr John Fleming who said he was “a frontline worker and had a great following.”

Good wishes were also expressed by Cllrs Mary Farrell, Barbara-Anne Murphy, Kathleen Codd-Nolan, Jim Moore, Michael Whelan (whose father served on the Council with Cllr Carthy’s father), Willie Kavanagh, Fionntán Ó Suilleabháin and John Hegarty told the new chairman; “It is a very proud day for you and your family. Enjoy it and make the most of it.”

Cllr Cathal Byrne thanked Cllr Carthy for “being open and available to offer help and advice to new members.”  Cllr Joe Sullivan reminded him that “it is a huge honour and you can be greatly proud to be the head of a population of 150,000 people. Good wishes were also forthcoming from Cllr Andrew Bolger and Pip Breen.

CEO Tom Enright said it was important to have all 34 members of the Council together again. He paid tribute to outgoing Cathaoirleach, Cllr Michael Sheehan, as did the majority of speakers in the chamber and he thanked the staff of the Council and praised the frontline workers who had brought us through a difficult three months.

All-Ireland hurling medal winner with Wexford in 1996, Garry Laffan defeated ‘recently engaged’ Cllr Bridín Murphy for the Leas-Cathaoirleach position.

CLLR MICHAEL WHELAN (Cathaoirleach New Ross District) CLLR BARBARA-ANNE MURPHY (Cathaoirleach Enniscorthy District) CLLR LEONARD KELLY (mayor of Wexford) CLLR FRANK STAPLES (Rosslare District) and CLLR JOE SULLIVAN (Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District were elected at the annual general meeting of Wexford County Council.

The new Mayor of Wexford Borough Council is Cllr Leonard Kelly who takes over the mayoral chains from Cllr George Lawlor. The Deputy Mayor is Cllr Thomas Forde.

No change in Gorey-Kilmuckridge Municipal District where Cllr Joe Sullivan is Cathaoirleach and Cllr Oliver Walsh takes up the position of Leas-Cathaoirleach.

Female members take the lead in the Enniscorthy District with Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy stepping into the hot seat, a position she last occupied in 2014. Outgoing Cathaoirleach Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan is now Leas-Cathaoirleach.

Cllr Michael Whelan is the new Cathaoirleach in New Ross District, a position he last held in 2016-’17, replacing Cllr John Fleming. Leas-Cathaoirleach is Cllr Bridín Murphy from Ballymackessey, Clonroche.

In Rosslare Municipal District outgoing Cathaoirleach moves into the top position with Wexford County Council and his place is taken by Cllr Frank Staples. Cllr Lisa McDonald is Leas-Cathaoirleach.

Also today many glowing tributes were paid to the retiring County Secretary of many years, Pat Collins, who is replaced by David Minogue, who acted as Returning Officer in his new role.

Oylegate to Rosslare road link moves a step closer

By Dan Walsh

Wexford County Council announced today it is to begin a public consultation process on the proposed N11/N25 Oylegate to Rosslare Harbour Scheme that aims to develop over 30 kilometres of high-quality road network linking the M11 with Rosslare Europort.

Director of Service at Wexford County Council, Eamonn Hore, said; “Rosslare Europort has become increasingly busy over the last few years, resulting in increased pressure on the infrastructure serving the Port and communities across south Wexford. The outcome of Brexit means that Rosslare is of ever-increasing importance as a primary transport link with the continent, and though this increase in trade and tourism will bring welcome economic benefits to both the South East and Ireland in general, it will also result in increasing pressures on road capacity and safety along the N11 and N25 corridors linking to Rosslare Europort.

“We want to hear the views of the public with regards to the proposed scheme options. With the current restrictions on large gatherings in place due to Covid-19, we cannot hold an information session, as we would during normal times. However, the public will be able to express their views and have direct contact with the project team via phone conversations, as well as on-line and email services” he concluded.

Public will have the opportunity to contribute to the scheme development during the consultation process which runs from Monday, July 6th until Monday July 20th. The website www.oilgate2rosslareharbour.ie will provide a centralised location for information and feedback.

Drama in the garden grows in Coolgreany

By Dan Walsh

With social distance restrictions limiting the numbers that can attend indoor events these days some strong inspiration triumphed in Coolgreany and the local drama members are performing  a full length comedy ‘Hooked’ in the unique and pleasant surroundings of the beautiful Ram House Gardens in the village.

Popping up in the garden and ‘Hooked’ on their lines! Carl Nuzum, Niamh Fleming and Norah Finn from Coolgreany Drama. Pic; Thomas Clare

From Thursday July 2nd, and running regularly throughout July and August, Coolgreany Drama is back in action and presenting a major outdoor production of Gillian Grattan’s acclaimed full-length comedy-drama ‘Hooked”. 

Director Sally Stevens told WexfordLocal.com; “Community theatre, along with GAA, is often the social and cultural lifeblood of most rural communities. Following the Covid restrictions, we had to think of innovative ways to ‘keep the show on the road’ within health and safety parameters, so as not to deprive our community of quality theatre and to give people a badly-needed social outlet.”

“We have been rehearsing for ‘Hooked’ with the aid of Zoom and more recently, outdoors, while adhering to social distancing parameters. Following the easing of restrictions, we are now in a position to present our latest production in safe, socially distant and pleasant surroundings with a limited attendance over 18 nights throughout the summer.”

‘Hooked’ is a three-handed comedy drama in which young Dubliner Lydia’s move to a small country village causes tensions and leads to an unexpected chain of events, exposing many secrets and lies bubbling under the surface.

The venue for the play, Ram House Gardens, lovingly tended by Sally’s mother, Lolo Stevens, is spread over two acres and it features in many major gardens of Ireland guides.

‘Hooked’ will be performed on Thursday evenings at 7pm on July 2nd,9th and 16th and August 6th,13th and 20th; and on Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm on July 4th,5th,11th,12th,18th and 19th and August 8th,9th,15th,16th, 22nd and 23rd.  

The venue address is Ram House Gardens, Coolgreany, Gorey Y25KD77. Due to Covid restrictions, unfortunately, toilet facilities will not be available. The play lasts for 90 minutes with no interval. Admission is €12 plus Eventbrite booking fee.

Booking for the July performances is now open online – Google: Eventbrite Hooked or Eventbrite Coolgreany. For further queries about the show phone:  087 2411926.