THE launch of the 10-day national commemoration of the Great Famine in West Clare will coincide with a special piece of drama at Carrigaholt on May 3.
Kilkee-based group, Crack’d Spoon Theatre, have been asked to recreate a fictional incident from the 1840s to mark the occasion. This will include a civic reception staged by local landlords Westby, Burton and McDonnel for Crofton Moore Vandeleur, head of the Poor Law Union and his wife, Grace.
In addition, as Carrigaholt was the last port of call for the ill-fated immigrant ship, The Edmund, intending passengers will be queuing for tickets in the square.
Research in the lead-up to the Famine Commemoration has thrown light on twilight vigilantes, variously named The Rockites, Lady Clare Boys, White Boys and Terry Alts, which were agrarian secret societies, who met after dark and dressed in wild, terrifying costumes to take revenge against landlord collaborators. Their arrival at the re-enactment in Carrigaholt will lend a dramatic dimension to proceedings.
Local schools, including Carrigaholt, Querrin and Doonaha, are developing their own contributions to the event, which is intended to be an educational invocation of the time. It is hoped the event will trigger an enthusiastic response from the locality.
To this end, awards will be presented, both male and female, for the most authentic costumes in the following categories: landed gentry, valet and maids, guardians of the peace, including constabulary and a platoon of Hussars, Émigrés (family groupings) in the square seeking passage to America, beleaguered evictees (family groupings) and vigilante rebels disguised in wild and terrifying uniforms.
Guidance regarding costumes will be made available nearer to the event.