Leinster Leader, Saturday, May 28, 1898


That part of Queens County within reach of the Wolfe Tone Branch of the Centenary Committee gave ample evidence on Sunday night that this position of Ossory at least did not “fear the spread of ’98.” The line of country extending from Dunamaise Castle to the highest peaks of the Capard mountain of the Slieve Bloom range was entrusted to the men in charge of the illuminations and the result was a brilliant semi-circle of blazing bonfires. Every hill gave token that the memory of those dauntless heroes was revered and cherished by their grateful successors. Not less than thirty fires were blazing between 9 and 10 o’clock p m, the signal been given from Mountmellick by rockets being the centre of the celebration, and the headquarters of the branch. Immediately there burst forth in answer, rockets from Capard, Rosenallis, Derryginly, Dunamaise, Brittas, and Clonoughady, and at once the fires were lighted throughout the whole district, which extended for fully five miles from Mountmellick on every side. Every Nationalist house in the town of Mountmellick was brilliantly illuminated. Immense crowds paraded the streets headed by the local fife and drum bands, and accompanied by a torchlight procession of fully 200 members of the branch.

Rosenallis was also very well illuminated, and the bonfires on the heights could be discerned at a distance of 15 to 20 miles. Everything passed off in a most orderly manner, not a single instance of insult offered to any class occurring, and the committee deserve the greatest praise for the unexampled excellence of the arrangements. This branch is at least doing its part in seeing that the centenary of the gallant struggle shall be fittingly and honorably celebrated.


On the night of the 23rd Kildalkey was illuminated on a big scale. From an earlyminated on a big scale. From an early hour in the evening stalwart youths were to be seen drawing turf and other combustibles to Mulla-na-Cilla Hill, overlooking the village, where at dark a great bonfire was lighted. The houses of the village and the country around were brilliantly illuminated; literally every hillock in the parish had its bonfire, old and young were astir until a late hour.
Patriotic songs were sung in many places. Around some of the bonfires tales were told of Ninety Eight but above all the sad tragic tale of the martyrdom of heroic and beautiful patroness of their branch “the lovely Betsy Gray.” A meeting of the Kildalkey branch was held on Sunday last, the vice-president, Patrick Cleary, presiding. The following members of the committee were present:- Messrs Patrick M’Namee, John Garry, Laurence Newman, John Slevin, Patrick Kennedy, Jas Kennedy, Richard Tyrrell, John Farrell, Patk. Miggin, Patrick Dunne, James Gallagher, Laurence Daly, Mathew M’Namee, hon. secretary, etc.

After the usual routine business had been transacted, a fund for the National monument to be erected at Dublin to the memory of Wolfe Tone and the men of ’98 was opened and subscriptions taken. Communications received from the Manchester Martyrs Memorial Committee were read and considered. It was decided to confer with the leaders of the National organization on the matter on the historic Hill of Tara on Sunday next. It is expected that the men of Kildalkey will show by their presence at Tara on Sunday that they are not unmindful of the heroic martyred dead nor of the sacred cause for which they died.


On Monday evening last a torchlight procession took place through the streets of Athy for the purpose of commemorating the opening of the rebellion in 1798. The procession, which was accompanied by one of the local bands, was of splendid dimensions, and those taking part in it showed the greatest spirit and enthusiasm. The Nationalists of the town had their houses illuminated, and in this respect the desire to do honour to the memory of the dead was universal. It would, perhaps, be invidious to make distinctions, but the drapery establishment of Mr Murphy, the licensed premises of Mr Knowles of the Square, and Heffernans hotel had a particularly striking effect, whilst Mrs Fitzgerald had the windows of her house illuminated with green candles. After the procession a public meeting, which was addressed by Messrs P Knowles and Timmons, was held in the Square. Mr John Orford presided. Mr Knowles in coming forward was received with great enthusiasm.
He said, in the course of a lengthy and instructive address, that in order to find the cause of the ’98 rebellion they should go back to the period when Grattan forced from an unwilling English Government the establishment of an Irish Parliament and a limited National freedom. This period beginning in 1782 and extending to 1798, was a bright and glorious one for the country, notwithstanding the many drawbacks in her Parliamentary constitution—so bright, glorious and successful that on the testimony of most disinterested and competent authorities, no country in the annals of the world could show a parallel for the same space of time [cheers]. This extraordinary prosperity—national and commercial—aroused the envy of the English to such an extent that they determined to undermine the Irish Government and thereby rob the Irish people of their prosperity. To this end it was necessary to decry Ireland and everything Irish.

This they did through the medium of the Press, which was utilised to the greatest extent. The English and their agents were bent on subverting the established order of things, and creating false public opinion. They were unscrupulous as to their means and courses. The secret service system was put in force, the informers were unearthed, and persecutions and assassinations of the people carried on until a regime was imposed of such a nature as to drive Irishmen of education and position to reflect, in those extraordinary circumstances, how best they would throw off such a galling yoke [cheers]. The Irish leaders decided that prompt and energetic steps should be taken to resist the cruel and murderous onslaught that had been organised. They claimed liberty for the Irish people without distinction of class or creed.

The society of United Irishmen was then formed. It quickly spread throughout the country and large numbers joined its ranks. It offered a fierce resistance to the Government, but the English of that day knew that the force, fraud and numbers were on their side; to their cost they subsequently learned that honour, patriotism and chivalry were on the side of the Irish [cheers].

Such qualities existed at the present day. It would be altogether outside his [speaker's] range to deal locally with the cause of the Irish rebellion. They knew on the one hand its sad results, but they knew also on the other that only but for such national upheavals had the demoralised and tyrannion Saxon ever conceded any of their just demands [cheers].

Then they should remember the days of ’98 were days, by English law, of enforced ignorance. Education was at a very low ebb, steam, telegraphy and electricity were not the ractical factors that they are just now. In their time the resources of civilisation were in their hands. They had wrung at length from an unwilling legislature's measure of education very incomplete indeed. Their demands were made known throughout the world, their opinions were expressed and circulated. The public were informed and enlightened as to their views and their wants, and it needed but the memory of that mortal power which was such a factor to-day throughout the world to bring about by a bloodless revolution necessary reforms in their country.

The aim of every Irishman of whatever section should be to inculcate and foster that moral force which formed and moulded the public opinion of a country which swayed and shaped the destinies of a race, which brought the whole world within one compass and one limit. That was the moral force that they called to their aid. Should they despond and grow sluggish in their efforts? Should they lose heart and give up the struggle that they had carried on so long (a voice—“never”). They should go on undaunted and undeterred and resolved to achieve their hopes. They looked to the comfort with hope and light heart confident that their cause was just and indestructible [cheers]. Mr Timmons, a well known local Nationalist also spoke. In the course of a stirring address he advised the people to cherish the traditions of the men of ’98 to honour their memory and to remember their unselfishness. The proceedings then terminated, but the crowds continued to parade the street until Midnight singing "The Boys of Wexford".