Minister of State Kehoe officially opens newly restored Enniscorthy Athenaeum
Enniscorthy Volunteers Headquarters now permanent home to 1916 Exhibition
After almost a year of conservation and restoration work, Enniscorthy’s much-loved Athenaeum will this evening (Friday) be officially re-opened by Mr. Paul Kehoe TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Defence The Athenaeum is one of the nine capital projects developed as Permanent Reminders under the 1916 Centenary Programme. The newly restored 150-seat theatre will act as a community and arts venue catering for drama productions, concerts and other public events and also features a new permanent exhibition on Wexford’s role during the Rising.
The Athenaeum played a highly prominent role during the 1916 Easter Rising in County Wexford, when it was occupied the Irish Volunteers in support of the Dublin Rising. Using it as their headquarters, every aspect of Rising activity in County Wexford was co-ordinated from there. When not out on duty the Volunteers ate and slept in the building, while Cumann na mBan established a hospital in the auditorium and dormitories in the dressing rooms on the first floor.
Speaking on the occasion of the opening, Minister Paul Kehoe said:
“Ireland 2016 – the State’s Centenary Programme to remember 1916 has engaged the entire nation. We have remembered 1916, reflected on our Republic 100 years on, and are now re-imagining our future.
“The Athenaeum was the Enniscorthy command post in The Rising and it was fitting that it chosen as one of the Ireland 2016 “permanent reminders”. It has been beautifully restored to its former glory and will be a wonderful resource for locals and tourists keen to learn more about The Rising; and it will be an excellent facility for the arts in County Wexford.”
Speaking about the importance of the project, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys said:
“The restored Enniscorthy Athenaeum will be a significant cultural legacy of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. The Athenaeum played a major part in the history of 1916, with the Volunteers selecting it as their command post and raising the Tricolour above it. I am delighted that the Athenaeum can reclaim its fitting place in our history. The restored 150-seat theatre will provide an excellent venue in County Wexford where events can be enjoyed by the entire community.”
The newly refurbished building now houses a permanent exhibition attesting to Wexford’s illustrious role during that turbulent time. The exhibition includes a reconstruction of the actual HQ of the rebels in 1916 with the information presented on a series of props, graphics and supplemented by audio narratives. Dedicated spaces within the exhibition include a war council room, secretary’s office and an emergency hospital and kitchen.
The exhibition, which has been curated by Wexford County Council archivist Grainne Doran, also showcases a large-scale model of Enniscorthy Town and depicts a number of the buildings that featured prominently during the Rising. The space also features a multimedia exhibition.
This evening’s ceremony will include an inspection by the Minister of an honour guard of the Irish Defence Forces, with a large group of 1916 re-enactors also expected to be in attendance. The ceremony will bring to conclusion the County Wexford 1916 Centenary Programme which has seen dozens of events taking place throughout the county to celebrate, remember and mark the proud and historic contribution made by Wexford during the 1916 Easter Rising.