Veteran Wexford republican and trade union activist Mick O' Leary laid a wreath on the night while local human rights campaigner Ger Barron spoke of the historical importance of the Battle of New Ross and the initial rebel victory at Three Bullet Gate.
At dawn on the 5th of June 1798 Irish rebels, who had advanced from their camp on Carrigbyrne hill, engaged the crown forces just outside of New Ross town. The bloodiest battle of the rising had began. The British, knowing the rebels were advancing south following the capture of Wexford town, had dug in and the 2000 strong garrison had fortified the town.
The rebels sent Matt Furlong under the flag of truce to attempt to negotiate the surrender of the town. As he approached the British lines, Furlong was shot down by the defenders. This infuriated the rebel army who were now determined to seize the town by force.
John Kelly from Killanne led an group of 500 rebels who attacked Three Bullet Gate, driving a herd of cattle in front of them in an effort to scatter the crown defenders. The strategy worked and the gate fell to Kelly's men, who pushed on into the town. Two other columns attacked Priory Gate and Market Gate.
The rebels swept into the town and drove the crown forces back seizing two thirds of New Ross before an extreme shortage of gunpowder and ammunition slowed their advance. This gave the British the chance to regroup and lead a counterattack. Before noon the exhausted rebels were forced to withdraw from the town. The battle was over and lost. Up to 3000 rebels and 200 of the garrison had been killed during the fighting.