County Longford will commemorate the 1798 Rebellion over the weekend September 6th to 8th , with a variety of events in Granard, Ballinamuck, Ballinalee and Ardagh.
The events commemorate the Battle of Granard on September 5, 1798 and the Battle of Ballinamuck on September 8. This is the first county-wide commemoration of that key episode in Irish and local history.
The programme gets under way on Friday, September 6 in Granard at 6.30pm with a walking tour of the battle sites, including a visit to the ‘Croppies Grave’ and the firing of a replica of a cannon of the period. The walk begins at the community centre, Barrack Street and will be led by local historian Jimmy Donoghue.
Following this, the weekend’s official opening will take place in the community centre at 8.30pm. The keynote speaker will be Thomas Pakenham, historian and author of several books including The Year of Liberty: The Great Irish Rebellion of 1798. The other guest of honour will be Mayor Henry L. Jolly of Gaffney City, South Carolina. Gaffney was founded by Granard native Michael Gaffney over 200 years ago.
On Saturday, September 7, events will begin in Ballinalee with a visit to the ‘Croppies Grave’ at 12pm. The focus then shifts to Ballinamuck where at 2pm, new information boards on the battle will be unveiled at the ’98 Memorial Hall. Special guests at this event will be 1798 expert, Stephen Dunford, and Marianne Ziss, First Secretary at the French Embassy. A walking tour of the battlefield will follow, led by Glynn McKenna, with an optional visit to General Blake’s grave at Tubberpatrick Cemetery.
In the late afternoon, it is expected that a group of ‘pikemen’ will arrive from Leitrim, having marched along part of the route taken by General Humbert’s army. The annual mass of remembrance will be at 7pm, followed by the firing of the 1798 cannon at the Visitors’ Centre. To round off the day, there will be entertainment in the ’98 Memorial Hall from 9pm.
The weekend comes to an end on Sunday, September 8 in Ardagh. At 1.30pm there will be a visit to the reputed grave of ‘Bonny Pat’ Farrell, a leader at the Battle of Granard.
The grave is in the cemetery opposite Ardagh Community Centre. This is followed by a guided walk to Ardagh Heritage and Creativity Centre. There, at 3pm Monsignor Raymond Murray will give a talk on Fr. James Coigly, an Armagh priest executed in Kent in 1798.
Over the course of the weekend, entertainment will be provided by the award winning ‘Armagh Rhymers’ and local musicians.