Fadó brought this year’s parade theme – ‘Waterford Roots and Spirit reach far and wide…’ – to life by animating characters from Waterford’s history; using the Blue Plague as a recognisable symbol to illustrate the theme and to encourage the audience. The characters chosen span a period from the mid 1500’s to the 1970’s. They include: Luke Wadding (Franciscan Friar ,Historian and Theologian), Captain William Hobson (first Governor of New Zealand), John J Hearne (Architect of Irish Constitution and 1st Irish Ambassador to US), T.F. Meagher (Governor of Montana who flew the Irish Flag for the first time from 33 The Mall), John Roberts(Architect), Annie Brophy (Photographer & Social Historian), Jonathan Dillon (Watchmaker – inscribed Lincoln’s watch), John Condon (Boy Soldier), William Vincent Wallace (Composer) and a number of the Irish Brigade who fought in the Spanish Civil War.
In July 1936 a military rising was launched in Spain by General Francisco Franco. His aim was to overthrow the Republican government. Between 1936 and 1939 over 45,000 men and women from fifty-four countries arrived in Spain to volunteer for the Republican Forces. They formed La Quince Brigada – the Fifteenth International Brigade. Almost two hundred volunteers came from Ireland. Eleven of those came from Waterford. A social conscience was very much a part of the upbringing of these young men who were born and raised in working class Waterford. They were not willing to simply talk about freedom, they were willing to defend it. The Spanish Civil War was fought between the Republicans, who were loyal to the established Spanish republic, and the Nationalists, a rebel group led by General Francisco Franco. The Nationalists prevailed and Franco would rule Spain for the next 36 years. The celebrated Republican orator, La Pasionaria, told the International Brigaders: ‘You are history. You are legend’.
Annie Brophy was born in 1899 in Johnstown, Waterford. Educated at the Mercy Convent she was the first female professional photographer in Waterford and one of the first in Ireland, setting up her own business at 9 Barker Street. Annie is remembered fondly in Waterford as a photographer who documented the city’s everyday life. Her photographic collection, amounting to over 60,000 negatives and prints is now housed in Waterford City Archives.
John Roberts was born in Waterford in 1712. He was a Georgian architect who designed and built Waterford’s two Cathedrals. The Protestant Christ Church Cathedral is considered the finest 18th century ecclesiastical building in Ireland and the Catholic Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity was the first post-Reformation Cathedral to be built in the country. City Hall is another fine example of his work. John Roberts is buried in the French Church, Greyfriars, in the heart of Waterford’s famous Viking Triangle, in the Roberts’ family plot.
Jonathan Dillon, born in Waterford in 1822, was a watchmaker who immigrated to Washington D.C. In April 1861, while working at M. W. Galt & Company, a watch shop on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, Dillon was repairing the pocket watch of Abraham Lincoln when he heard the first shots of the American Civil War had been fired. He was the only Union sympathiser working in the shop.” He engraved the following inscription on the inside of the watch. “Jonathan Dillon April 13, 1861 Fort Sumter was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon April 13, 1861 Washington” and “thank God we have a government Jonth Dillon.”. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History opened Abraham Lincoln’s pocket watch in March 2009 and discovered the secretly engraved message that turned an unsubstantiated family story into a confirmed historical event.
Luke Wadding was born in Waterford on 16 October 1588. A statue of Wadding stands in the Viking Triangle celebrating his life as a theologian, church statesman and historian of the Franciscan Order. He founded St Isidore’s, the Irish Franciscan College in Rome in 1618. His most enduring achievement was the addition of St. Patrick’s Day to the official Christian calendar. In 1903 Waterford became the first city to declare St. Patrick’s Day a public holiday, commemorating St. Patrick and the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. Luke Wadding died on the 18thNovember 1657, in his 70th year. He lies buried in Rome, in his beloved Church of St. Isidore. A mural of St. Patrick watches over the humble tomb of friar Wadding.
John Condon, of Wheelbarrow Lane, Ballybricken. He enlisted in the British army on 24 October 1913 and fought in World War I. 4,800 men from Waterford served during the war and over 700 were killed. Among those was Private John Condon of the 3rd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment who was killed in the Second Battle of Ypres, on 24 May 1915, defending Belgium from the German onslaught. John was aged 14 years when he was killed and is recorded as being the youngest British soldier to have died in the Great War. Known as the ‘Boy Soldier’, John’s grave in Flanders is one of the most visited of all the war graves and is regarded by many as a fitting symbol for the futility of war.
William Vincent Wallace was born at Colbeck Street, Waterford in 1812. He is regarded as one of the greatest 19th century composers of English opera. Wallace was also a founder member of the New York Philharmonic orchestra. His most famous operas include Maritana, Lurline and Amber Witch. His music has regaled, entertained and delighted people throughout the world. He died in France in 1865. A bust of Wallace can be seen outside Waterford’s Theatre Royal in the Viking Triangle.
John J. Hearne was born on 4 November 1893 at 8 William Street in Waterford city. He was educated at Waterpark College and his father was mayor of the city on two occasions, in 1902 and 1903. One of Waterford’s unsung heroes, Hearne’s lasting legacy to the Irish state is as one of the drafters of the 1937 Constitution securing the framework for Irish democracy. Hearne was appointed the first Irish ambassador to the United States in 1950 and two years later, during President Harry Truman’s presidency, he began the St. Patrick’s Day tradition of presenting Irish shamrock to the White House. Hearne’s gesture led to St Patrick’s Day being celebrated all over the world in places like Australia, New Zealand, Unites States, Great Britain and Canada.
Thomas Francis Meagher was born in Waterford, on the 3rd August 1823, the son of the first Catholic mayor of Waterford in over 200 years. Educated at Mount Sion, he went on to become the founder member of the Irish Confederation dedicated to Irish independence. He was known as “Meagher of the Sword” due to his fiery revolutionary speeches urging war to achieve the goal of independence. In March 1848 he unveiled the Irish Tricolour for the first time from the Wolfe Tone Club at 33 the Mall in Waterford City. Meagher was also a hero of the American Civil War and rose to the rank of brigadier general. After the war he became governor of Montana. He died in 1867. A statue, celebrating his achievements, stands outside Reginald’s Tower located in the Viking Triangle.