100 years on there couldn’t have been a much different Wexford. The weather shone brightly on Saturday afternoon. As I sat at the unveiling ceremony for Peter Hodnett’s fine piece of sculture I looked around to see it was just the ordinary people of Wexford, their Mayor, many of their councillors, and just some of their Oireachtas members.
Some of those who persistently beat the left wing drum nationally and locally were conspicuous by their absence underpinning the old adage, if you know your past, you understand the present and if you understand the present you have a future. Sad that the efforts of the 1911 Committee that started as a twinkle of the political eye about 3 years ago weren’t as well supported as they deserved to be by some who claim to be inspired by Connolly’s radicalism. It’s not too often you get a Connolly descendent in town on the anniversary of James Connolly’s execution. What really struck me was the Carmel Corish Wallace school members shouting now and again “Join a Union”. Carmel’s sister Helen played a proverbial blinder as she narrated the lock out story.
Peter O’Leary, grandson of the man killed during a riot at the time, sat close to Jack O’Connor, President of SIPTU. Minister Brendan Howlin son of the late Wexford ITGWU Secretary John Howlin sat behind President Michael D Higgins who spoke at length setting out the need to commemorate the decade of anniversaries ahead of us and how there exists a need to involve the citizen in organisation of workers and how work has changed but yet remains the need to democratise the workplace.
After the ceremony ended Michael D walked the length of The Faythe shaking everyhand that was offered as we marched to the local national school where a crowded hall listened as Mayor David Hynes hosted a civic reception for President and Mrs Higgins. It was a historic and fitting end to a great commemoration, The Ará s staff discretely in the background keeping Michael to his schedule as he ahd another function to go to later that evening in Dublin. Earlier he had marked World MS day in Wexford with the South Wexford branch of MS Ireland. The enthusiasm of those attending for this mostly private event and the absence of the media was the perfect spot for his analysis of the tone of the Celtic Tiger years and the disaffection of the populace for the discourse. Vintage Michael D, the older he gets the wiser and subtler at making his point!