Republicans of varying creeds gather in Bodenstown cemetery where three very different yet similar commemorations celebrate Theobald Wolfe Tone, father of modern Irish Republicanism.
Bodenstown, near Sallins, in County Kildare, is a quiet town for most of the year, apart from June, when the Wolfe Tone Commemorations take place.
Theobald Wolfe Tone was born on 20 June 1763. Inspired by the ideals of French republicanism, and the American Revolution, he was one of the founding members of the United Irishmen, and leader of the 1798 Rebellion. Wolfe Tone died on 19 November 1798, following the insurrection whose aim was to overthrow English rule in Ireland. He is buried in Bodenstown cemetery.
Republicans of all kinds in Ireland claim to honour Wolfe Tone and take inspiration from him, his writings, and what he did and achieved for Ireland and the Irish people. Commemorations have taken place here since the time of his burial.
'Féach' team visited Bodenstown and filmed the annual Sinn Féin commemoration. Provisional Sinn Féin supporters assemble and hold a wreath-laying cemetery with energetic orations delivered in the nationalistic style, but with an emphasis on the current political situation in the North,
Siad seo an dream atá i ngleac leis na Sasanaigh sa Tuaisceart , an dream a úsáideann an gunna ‘is an pléascán lena bpoblacht a bhunú...
The previous day, at the Defence Forces commemoration, there was no oration. Soldiers paraded, the Army Band played, and Minister for Defence Jerry Cronin laid a wreath at Wolfe Tone’s grave. This ceremony highlights Wolfe Tone’s time spent as a soldier, and remembers that he was a man who, according to his writings, had been an admirer of military parades from an early age,
Our amusement consisted particularly in attending all parades, field days and reviews of the garrison of Dublin, in the Phoenix Park. I traced the splendid appearance of the troops and the pomp and parade of military show, the untameable desire which I ever since have had to become a soldier, the desire which has never once quit me.
Fianna Fáil held their annual commemoration when the Defence Forces ceremony finished, and Taoiseach Jack Lynch lays a wreath at Wolfe Tone’s grave. Senator Neville Keery’s oration has a different emphasis to the one delivered at this site the previous week,
Our simple ceremony is a genuine commemoration. We do not come here to do other than honour the historic memory of Theobald Wolfe Tone...Respect for democracy is central to republicanism. We have come in peace to a place of peace, at a time when peace with justice is the hope of Irish men and Irish women everywhere.
This episode of ‘Féach’ was broadcast on 19 June 1972. The reporter was Prionsias MacAonghusa.
The bilingual current affairs series ‘Féach’ reported on national and international events and was broadcast from 1967 to 1984. ‘Féach’ was aired every Sunday evening and featured reports in both Irish and English. The Irish word Féach meaning "Look" gives an indication of what the programme was about as editor John Ross stated, "It will try to show, from a fresh viewpoint, what is happening at home and abroad each week". (RTÉ Guide, 14 July 1967, p.17) The show was originally anchored by Andy O'Mahony with reporting assistance from Seán Duignan and Mícheál Ó Briain.