A QUITE exciting event is planed for Skibbereen on Friday night, July 24th, when it is hoped that the whole town will go back in time to 100 years ago and beyond to commemorate the remarkable Irish patriot Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.
On March 5th, 1863, Rossa was one of the organisers of a march that took place in Skibbereen in support of the Polish uprising against Russia. According to a report in The Cork Examiner the following day, ‘over 6,000 people thronged the streets including at least 200 police’. Many were carrying Polish banners and’“the torches were blazing’.
The O’Donavan Rossa Centenary Committee and Skibbereen Arts Festival have come together to try and recreate this march and to celebrate the life and times of O’Donovan Rossa and they need your help. The idea is that the whole town will go back in time for the night with as many people as possible dressed up in ‘period costume.’ It doesn’t have to be 100% authentic; just have a look in your attic and see what you can come up with.
The streets will be closed to engine-powered traffic from 7pm, but donkeys and carts, ponies and traps and vintage bicycles will be very welcome. The organisers are hoping that all of the shop windows will display photos, posters and artefacts, etc from the time. There will be pipe bands, pop-up history talks, children’s games of the period and then, just as darkness begins to fall, a torchlit parade will take place from the Rossa Park to the Maid of Eireann.
The Polish ambassador is coming, as well as representatives of the Irish government and a documentary filmmaker who is a direct descendant of Rossa is coming from New York to film the event.
Event co-ordinator Declan McCarthy is asking for people’s help: ‘We would be thrilled if the whole town and surrounds will enter into the spirit of the evening by dressing up and taking part in the parade. We are looking for people to make Polish banners, anyone who owns vintage traps and bicycles etc and any other ideas that may help to make this one of the most special evenings in Skibbereen for a long time’.