Louth County Council has coordinated events to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.
There will be wreath laying ceremonies, unveiling of plaques, exhibitions, lectures on Eamon Ceannt and Joseph Dolan, both associated with Ardee, also Cumann na mBan, Sean McEntee and the Hughes brothers, Patrick rankin, the O’Rahilly family, and Pearse in Carrickmacross.
A play, Ten Men in the Tower, will be staged in Togher. There will be walking tours, a conference on the theme of 1916 nationally and the publication of books on people from Louth who took part in the Rising.
There will be a bi-lingual lecture on constable Charles McGee who was killed at Castlebellingham and tours of exhibitions in libraries, archives and museums for schoolchildren.
There will be a post primary schools poetry competition, creative writing and reading workshops, debates, re-enactments of events, music, drama, and storytelling.
Tidy Towns committees will also be involved in the planning and design of community gardens, and live street events.
Delegates will come from towns in the USA, France, and Italy that are twinned with those in Louth.
And that’s just a taste of what is in store. The Louth Centenary Programme is available from Louth County Council, County Hall Dundalk or your local library branch.
It’s a superb detailed programme, beautifully produced, and well worth reading in detail so that you can select the events you would like to attend.
Among the contributors will be Louth historian Donal Hall, who was a member of the consultative committee.
According to Donal, when the Rising broke out in April 1916 there were 200 hundred volunteers in Louth.
On Easter Sunday, the Irish Volunteers assembled in Dundalk with orders to march to Tara.
This seemingly was Pearse’s daft idea. Eoin Mac Neill tried to cancel the order but the Dundalk boys were off before he got word to them.
Sean McEntee stayed in Dundalk with a number of men with instructions to seize seventy rifles held by the National Volunteers. When he received a copy of MacNeill’s countermanding order he went off in pursuit of O’Hannigan. Shortly before three o’clock in the afternoon, on the road between Ardee and Slane he caught up with the Dundalk Volunteers. O’Hannigan decided to carry out his original instructions, but sought to get confirmation of the countermanding orders.
That night McEntee was dispatched to contact James Connolly in Dublin, while the Volunteers spent a miserable night in the open, wet and thoroughly dispirited.
At 3am with a violent rainstorm raging and their position untenable, the Volunteers began to retrace their steps towards Dundalk, dispersing as they went along.
By Monday afternoon they were between Castlebellingham and Dundalk when McEntee caught up with them to confirm that the Rising had broken out at noon in Dublin.
O’Hannigan halted his men, and made prisoners of some RIC men who had been following them at a distance since Sunday morning. They then commandeered a number of vehicles and returned to Castlebellingham. It was here that constable Charles McGee was killed.
The Louth Volunteers became separated on the road due to an accident in dense fog. Finally on Monday night about twenty Louth Volunteers under O’Hannigan and Hughes eventually took up positions on the Navan Road about ten miles from Dublin. O’Hannigan’s group remained there until Monday 1 May, three days after the surrender in Dublin.
As their position was hopeless, they cleaned and dumped their arms, and then dispersed.
While O’Hannigan escaped to the west, and Paddy Hughes and nine others remained in hiding until Wednesday 3 May, reluctant to believe that the rebellion was over, at which stage they dispersed.
The Rising from a military point of view was a shambles, naive to say the least, but it was the birth of a nation and the celebrations planned for Louth are a great testimony to it all.