Leinster Leader, Saturday, May 21, 1898


On Monday next the anniversary of the first blow struck for Irish freedom in ’98 the centenary celebrations will be spiritedly initiated. Demonstrations and illuminations will take place in various districts throughout the country, and speech, music, and procession will prove that the memory of the dead is proudly cherished, and that the national sentiment and determination to carry out the struggle for Irish freedom until the long fought for victory is won, are as strong as ever, though temporarily obscured by apathy and indifference, the fruits of division and unday.

There will, for instance, be great demonstration at Rathfarnham, and many branches in Kildare, Queen’s, and other counties will meet for the purpose of completing or pushing forward the arrangements that they are making for giving adequate expression to the patriotism of their localities.

We hope to see the Kildare branches leading the way in the work of organising memorial processions and public gatherings. It would be a discredit to the native county of Lord EDWARD FITZGERALD if the indifference displayed in some parts of it since the inception of the ’98 movement was maintained during the coming month.

Branches like those in Kildare and Kilcock, to mention a couple, have set a stirring example and it is to be hoped that the action taken by the people in these districts, and not the neglect and indifference of other towns and villages, will be generally imitated in the county on Monday next and during the period over which the celebrations will extend. In these distracting days, when wars and other great events absorb the interest of the world, the mind is constantly diverted from matters that concern us here at home, and the feverish rush and telegraph speed of modern existence concentrate thought on the living present.

But what Irishman can under any circumstances be insensible to the suggestiveness of the name of Ninety-eight?

Who, even in the practical and matter-of-fact days of 1898, can forget what those two words epitomise, and can ignore the sad and tragic, the heroic and self sacrificing deeds of which they are the symbols? Can any lapse of time, any absorption in the exciting events of the present, efface from the memories of Irishmen the noble efforts of WOLFE TONnd FITZGERALD and the other brave patriots who in ’98 laid their lives on the altar of their country's liberty?

Can anything blot out from the minds of the Irish people the appalling pictures drawn by the historian of the black atrocities of the organisers of insurrection the burning of the peasants’ homes, the horrible tortures of the whipping post and the pitch cap, the violation of helpless women and other countless cruel barbarities of a bloodthirsty yeomanry?

To state these questions is to imply their answer. Nothing can ever make the Irishmen forgetful of the butchery and incendiarism that ushered in the Union, whose fruits the country has been reaping for the past hundred years in famine, overtaxation, agricultural and industrial decay; and the demonstrations during the next few weeks will disillusion those who think otherwise. We may be supine, we may be apathetic, we may quarrel amongst ourselves but we are united in our recollection of the cruelties and the crimes, the sufferings and sacrifices which constitute the blackest and yet one of the most inspiring chapters in the history of our country. Next week and the succeeding weeks will find the national pulse throbbing vigorously and the National blood aflame, in a demonstration which will manifest both this remembrance, and a determination that nothing will satisfy Ireland in the future but a realization of the ideals for which the men of ’98 fought and died.