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‘’It’s going to be a historic weekend in Ashbourne on the 22nd and 23rd of April ’’ - Saturday & Sunday 22nd & 23 of April 2017

Date Released: 11 April 2017


The BOACC Living History Festival will take place on Saturday & Sunday 22nd & 23 of April 2017 at the Donaghmore / Ashbourne GAA Club. Following the enormous success of the Battle of Ashbourne Centenary Commemoration, BOACC will again mark Ashbourne’s historical link with Thomas Ashe and the role of Ashbourne in bringing him to prominence in 1916-1917. Thomas Ashe, born in Lispole, County Kerry in 1885, became an ardent Irish cultural and political nationalist, teacher and revolutionary. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and dedicated himself to gaining Irish freedom from British rule. He was an early member of the Irish Volunteers and commanded the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade which on Friday the 28 of April 1916 won the only unequivocal victory of the Rising outside of Dublin. Ashe was court-marshalled and sentenced to death but that was commuted to penal servitude for life. He was released in the 1917 general amnesty and returned to Ireland. He reorganised and became president of the IRB and continued to incite opposition to British rule. He was rearrested and sentenced to a year’s hard labour in Mountjoy Jail where he led a hunger strike demanding prisoner-of-war status. Ashe died after five days as a result of force-feeding on the 25th of September 1917. His funeral became a focal point for opposition to British rule and was the largest in Ireland since the burial of Parnell. 30,000 people attended the burial in Glasnevin Cemetery where Michael Collins in Volunteer uniform delivered the graveside oration following a salute fired by Irish Volunteers, “Nothing more remains to be said, that volley that we have just heard is the only speech which is proper to make over the grave of a dead Fenian”.

The BOACC Living History Festival is part of the 2017 Thomas Ashe Centenary commemorations and will recreate key events from Irish history that shaped the life and death of Thomas Ashe. Living history moves the past from the written page to the real world where the whole family can experience and interact with the sights and sounds of times past. The festival will include displays and re-enactments covering 800 years of Irish history from Viking and Medieval times to the Battle of the Boyne, the 1798 Rebellion and the Irish War of Independence. It will showcase the weapons, uniforms, vintage civilian & military vehicles from the past hundred years.  On Saturday, the film ‘Fingal’s Finest’, which tells the story of Thomas Ashe and the 5th Battalion will be screened. The film features the BOACC Re-enactment group and Historian Tóla Collier. ‘Reel: Women of 1916’, a short film which reveals the untold story of Irish women in 1916 will also be shown. On Saturday afternoon historians Gabriel Doherty, Noel French & Tóla Collier will give a series of talks which will place Thomas Ashe within the broader context of the political, military and social history of the 20th Century. The Living History Festival will continue on Sunday the 23rd with a battle re-enactment from the Irish War of Independence, and will conclude with a parade to commemorate Thomas Ashe and the men and women who experienced the struggle for Irish independence. The parade will include a full flag party by the Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel, Irish Volunteer and Citizen Army contingents together with representatives of Ashbourne and Meath’s sporting and cultural institutions; and will conclude with a wreath laying and the ceremonial firing of three volleys of shots in memory of Thomas Ashe. For the latest information on the BOACC Living History Festival find out more on Facebook at Battle of Ashbourne 1916 or contact us at



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