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Colum O'Rourke
Colum O'Rourke signed this petition

The 1798 Rebellion was a large scale rebellion that occurred throughout much of Leinster, parts of Ulster and even had a French Expedition that landed in Mayo. The Rebellion cost Ireland the lives of around 30,000 of its people and saw thousands more emigrate or be transported as a result of it. 

In 1998, the bicentennial commemorations saw a huge investment of interest towards the period. In the lead up to this period, a proposal was made by Wexford County Council to construct a purpose-built museum and visitor centre, dedicated purely to the 1798 Rebellion, its influences and its consequences. The building cost £3 million, out of which £1.6 million was invested by the EU. The remainder was paid for by donations and voluntary contributions from the people all across Wexford. This building was enthusiastically financed for a reason by a people passionate about the Rebellion. This centre belongs to the people. 

“The centre is intended to be the lasting showpiece project of this 1798 bicentennial year” (Irish Times, June 3rd 1998). The centre officially opened on June 5th 1998. The article continues with this poignant conclusion that should be taken note of by those involved or interested in this sale. “The Visitor Centre Will Stand As a Permanent Memorial, an attempt to set the history straight for Irish people and visitors.”

I urge the members of Enniscorthy Municipal District and Wexford County Council to reconsider this sale. No new tourist hub centre will recreate such a pedestal already in place for the 1798 Rebellion Centre. No plans are in place for it be constructed and 1798 history will suffer the expense of being held in boxes and stored until such a plan is commissioned so please reconsider before having long term regrets. Media sources state that the Centre could be transformed into a museum, dedicated to designer, Eileen Gray. This proposal is preposterous considering we already have displays dedicated to Eileen Gray in Enniscorthy and in Dublin. Indeed Enniscorthy has a close connection with Eileen Gray but let’s be focused here and ask yourself, which is more important to commemorate. The 1798 Rebellion already suffered throughout the 19th Century with “Who Fears to Speak of ‘98.” Let’s not enter a period of “Who Cares to Speak of ‘98.” Instead or selling it. Invest in it. 

I urge Enniscorthy Municipal Council (Cllr Kathleen Codd-Nolan; Cllr Barbara-Anne Murphy; Cllr John O’Rourke; Cllr Cathal Byrne; Cllr Aidan Browne and Cllr Jackser Owens) and the authorities at Wexford County Council to STOP the sale of this important temple of our history.

Colum O’Rourke

1798 Rebellion Casualty Database