PHOTOS: Skibbereen enacts O’Donovan Rossa inspired parade

On Skibbereen Main Street, ladies in bustles saluted each other over the heads of the crowd as a vintage Punch and Judy show got underway. Vegetable sellers and urchins argued loudly as RIC officers turned a blind eye.

PHOTOS: Skibbereen enacts O’Donovan Rossa inspired parade

Apart from the sea of smartphones capturing every moment, and the occasional teen in denims, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d just stepped out of Back to the Future’s DeLorean and straight into the 1800s.

The brainchild of UCC historian Gabriel Doherty and local man Declan McCarthy, the Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa torchlit parade was held to celebrate the centenary of the death of Irish patriot O’Donovan Rossa, a native of Skibbereen.

Organiser Declan McCarthy was expecting 600 to take part in the event, and he wasn’t disappointed.

“The support of the community has been amazing,” Mr McCarthy said.

“Every single shop and business has participated, it’s wonderful to see.”

In 1863, O’Donovan Rossa held a torchlit parade in solidarity with a Polish uprising against their Russian occupiers known as the January Rebellion, and it was this event that organisers set out to re-enact. A busload of 40 members of Cork’s Polish Association made the journey down to honour O’Donovan Rossa’s gesture and the symbolic links between Ireland and Poland.

“We remember that this man supported the Polish people in the January Rebellion,” Kazimier Stawicki of the Polish Association said.

Mr Stawicki dressed in full national costume for the occasion and was much in demand for photo opportunities with locals in costume.

The Ballingeary pipe band and Skibbereen’s own St Fachtna’s Silver Band brought a little pomp and ceremony to the proceedings as the good-natured crowd waited expectantly for the sun to go down and the parade to begin.

Members of the local GAA team armed with pitchforks adorned with glowing turf added to the atmosphere and illumination.

The Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa Torchlit Parade also marked the opening of Skibbereen Arts Festival, which runs until August 2.

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