As Oulart Wexford commemorates the 1798 rebellion, a new era of peace in Ireland beckons with the endorsement of the Good Friday Agreement.

Pipe and brass bands and up to 1000 pike bearers marched through the Wexford village of Oulart to commemorate a battle in which the United Irishmen recorded one of their most important and impressive victories in the 1798 Rebellion.

Insurgents under Father John Murphy defeated the North Cork Militia and Yeomanry at the Battle of Oulart Hill. Their victory was the signal for the Wexford rebels to rise, and in quick succession Enniscorthy and Wexford town fell.

To commemorate this battle, the pike men and women assembled on the Hill of Oulart. Attendees at the commemoration have no problem remembering those who fought and died in 1798, even though it was a Rising in which thousands were killed. Author and historian Nicky Furlong says,

If we don't commemorate our own people who fought and died on the soil upon which we are standing now every fifty years, well then we should be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves.

The commemoration was all the more poignant given that voters north and south of the border had overwhelmingly endorsed the Good Friday Agreement in referenda.

US Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith was at the 1798 commemoration and expressed her delight over the massive yes vote on the Belfast Agreement.

I think that everybody feels a great sense of hope and faith and confidence in the future.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 24 May 1998. The reporter is Damien Tiernan.