Skibbereen to re-enact torchlit parade organised by O’Donovan Rossa

Artist Robert Ballagh to unveil new print of Pearse’s oration at Fenian’s funeral

The centenary of the death of Fenian Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa is to be marked in his home town of Skibbereen in west Cork by re-enacting a famous torchlit parade which he organised in the town in solidarity with Polish insurgents.

Born in Reenascreena in nearby Rosscarbery, O'Donovan Rossa became a shopkeeper in Skibbereen where he established the Phoenix National and Literary Society, whose aim was the "liberation of Ireland by force of arms", which would later merge with the IRB.

To mark the centenary of O’Donovan Rossa’s death in Staten Island in New York in 1915, the local Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa Centenary Commemoration Committee in Skibbereen has organised a programme of events to be held in the town throughout July.

According to committee secretary Linda Carroll, the re-enactment of the torchlit parade on July 24th will involve scores of local people dressing in period costume from the 19th century and will also involve members of the Polish community living in the west Cork town.


“The town will travel back in time to the 19th century, with shop staff attired in period costume and premises suitably decorated. Traffic in town will be restricted to bicycle, pony and trap,” Ms Carroll said. “ All involved shall be attired in period costume, with the themes of O’Donovan Rossa’s life to the fore and with members of the local Polish community in national dress, singing Polish patriotic ballads and flying banners and standards associated with Poland’s national cause of that era.”

Among the other events marking the centenary is the unveiling at the West Cork Arts Centre on July 24th featuring a new print by artist Robert Ballagh of Pádraig Pearse's famous oration at the graveside of O'Donovan Rossa in Glasnevin in August 1915.

On July 19th, Skibbereen will host the first of two performances at Skibbereen Town Hall of the play Rossa, written by Maria Young and inspired by the award-winning 1945 play of the same name by Roger McHugh.

The centenary committee is also hosting a lecture on O' Donovan Rossa organised by Philip O'Regan with the Skibbereen and District Historical Society, as well as a launch of an exhibition of newspaper articles relating to O'Donovan Rossa in the offices of the Southern Star newspaper.

The committee has also commissioned a special limited edition O’Donovan Rossa Commemorative Medallion to mark the centenary, priced €10. For further information on the medallion and the full programme of events, please email Ms Carroll at

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times