Leinster Leader, Saturday, September 26, 1948

'98 Commemoration

A spectacle reminiscent of the scenes witnessed during the Military Tattoo in Dublin some years ago was staged in Baltinglass on Sunday night. This was part of the ’98 commemoration and was the first in the country to take the form of a Tattoo. The Tattoo was a succession of scenes based on the life of Michael Dwyer during his insurgent campaign in Wicklow, the programme was arranged and conducted by the Carlow Battalion of the F.C.A., aided by units from Baltinglass and surrounding towns and under the supervision of Army officers of the Eastern Command.

Four Scenes Were Presented

The Massacre at Dunlavin
This scene opened at the residence of Col. Saunders, of Saunders Grove, when he was accused by a Yeoman Captain of harbouring rebels. Saunders protested, but when proof is forthcoming, 19 of his men are marched away to a summary courtmartial and brought before a firing squad on Dunlavin Green. The order is to execute in groups of five, and finding that one group has only four men, the spy, Hawkins, who had already given information leading to the arrests, is forcibly compelled to take his place in the group of four to make up the five, and was executed with them.
The Marriage of
Michael Dwyer and Mary Doyle
The second scene portrayed the marriage of Michael Dwyer and Mary Doyle. The ceremony was performed by Father James Murphy in the presence of his insurgent comrades.

The Siege of the
Cottage at Derrynamuck.
This was the most striking and spectacular scene of the night, depicting as it did, the most outstanding incident in Michael Dwyer's career. A replica of the cottage at Derrynamuck was erected on the arena and the whole scene of the ambush as it is known to every schoolboy was realistically enacted.

The Surrender to
Colonel Hume
Here Dwyer is first seen reading a poster which offered attractive terms for his surrender. His wife urges him to accept. He sends a messenger to Col. Hume at Humewood Castle and he is heard making his surrender to the Colonel and seen handing him his arms and finally being escorted to Dublin under heavy escort. The scenes were portrayed with a reality and precision that seemed hardly possible, considering the short time at the disposal of those in charge and reflect great credit on all concerned. Two 22,000 w.a. a.a. Search Lights in charge of Capt. Banahan were used to give a moonlight effect to the scenes. Numerous flood lights in charge of Lieut. Seward, lit the arena, while a battery of five loud speakers relayed the commentary to the huge gathering who were able to follow each scene with ease. The day began by a Church parade and Military Mass at St. Joseph's, Baltinglass, which was followed during the day by band parades, displays of modern drill and precision marching by units of the F.C.A., local G.A.A. clubs, school children, etc.

A local choir ably accompanied by Mrs. Ben Farrell, gave a selection between the scenes of Irish songs, which were very much Mr. J Everett, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, said I have already had the honour of speaking at a ’98 commemoration in County Wicklow, when the cottage from which Michael Dwyer made his memorable escape, was handed over to the keeper of the people of Ireland, as a previous reminder of their ceaseless struggle for freedom.

It was an honour which as a Wicklow man, I felt very deeply and I feel it all the more, therefore, that I should have the privilege of speaking here to-day. The proud record of our history has been faithfully preserved by our writers and historians and is therefor all to read who wish to learn. But the libraries are not within the reach of everyone (please God some day they will be) and even if they were, it would be a sorry day for us if an interest in History were confined to the scholar and student.

It is a glorious thing and an encouragement to all who have the love of Ireland in their hearts, to know that here in County Wicklow and in many other parts of the country, the historical traditions live in the minds of the people of the land, and are so strong that out of them can grow the enthusiasm that has made the organisation of this magnificent commemoration possible. I have helped to organise many things in my time and I know well what planning and patience it has taken to organise this commemoration.

I know it has meant many months of quiet work undertaken in addition to all the cares and worries which every one of us carries these days. It has called for a spirit of co-operation on a very wide scale. You will not misunderstand me if I say that it is that spirit which is the important thing almost more so than the object to which it is directed. One of the tragedies of our time is the decline of local spirit and local pride. We had begun to fear that people only realised their love for their own locality when they had travelled far from it, but the ’98 commemorations have done much to re-assure us. Here in County Wicklow we have all the evidence that anyone could demand to prove that local history is not forgotten and that it is remembered not with bitterness, but with pride.

Thank God, we have travelled far along the road on which Michael Dwyer and his followers set out. Their glorious deeds seemed at the time to end only in hopelessness and ruin, but they were part of the chain of national struggle, and others came after them to link their work with that of new generations, so that we can now look back along a line of patriotic effort, leading up to Easter Week and, beyond it, to the final struggle in arms which achieved not full independence, but, at least, some foundation on which it could be built by peaceful methods.

Our efforts have not yet been crowned with complete success, nor will they be until we see an Ireland undivided by an artificial and unnatural barrier, with every Irishman—North and South—thinking of himself as one of a strong if small, island people, whose only boundary is the blue sea around our shores. Smallness doesn't mean helplessness or weakness. One man, by his way of life, can inspire many, and one small nation, by its Christian example, may well be an influence to turn the world to the only true principles on which peace can stand.

Present at Reception and Dinner. Those present at reception and dinner were—James Everett, T.D., Minister for Posts and Telegraphs; G.O.C. Hugo MacNeill, Lieut Russell, A.D.C., to the G.O.C.; Comdt. Cosgrave, Comdt. Blake, H. C. Doyle, M.I.A.A., Baltinglass, Chairman of local committee; F.Lanigan, State Solicitor, Carlow, and Mrs Lanigan; Captain Banahan, Lieut. Seward, Lieut. Moran, O/C., Portlaoighise F.C.A.; O/C. Abbeyleix F.C.A.; Tom Flemming, Shillelagh; Comdt. G. O’Doherty, Lieut. Sean Doyle, Richard L Barron, N.T.; F. Glynn N.T.;M Byrne, N.T.; Peador O’Reilly and party, and Press representatives.