This past weekend Ireland marked the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. I was lucky that I was able to travel to Dublin for the weekend.
I stayed with a friend in Grand Canal near Boland’s Mill one of the sites of the rising.
Now before the weekend I wasn’t too gone on remembering an event that didn’t place on this date 100 years ago. But the realisation slowly dawned on me that there was no point in marking the ‘Easter Rising’ a month after Easter if we were to follow the actual date of the Easter Rising. (Plus April 24th is the Census date)
Early Sunday morning I was outside the St Patricks Cathedral where I saw the Colour Party of Óglaigh na hÉireann carrying the flags of the revolutionary bodies.
Inside the Cathedral, while the prevailing sentiment seemed to be that we were marking this event a month early, one of the most poignant moments of the Easter Service was the reading of the names of those of the Cathedral Community who died Easter Week 1916.
485 people died that week due to the uprising, including women and children.
Following the Service I was on St Stephen’s Green where I watched the parade past the GPO. It was wonderful to see the Emergency Services, both state and voluntary being given places in the parade.
For me the centenary was an inclusive event. What it means to be Irish is not strictly defined and has been widened to include many ‘new’ Irish who have made Ireland home in the past 100 years. It wasn’t just about the events 100 years ago. It was also the events that followed. It was about our eventual freedom, our foundation as a state and how all the followed has been inspired by the Proclamation issued form the GPO in 1916.
I was also lucky to have been involved in Proclamation Day on March 15th in St Luke’s National School where I serve on the Board of Management. This was a wonderful occasion where the yet again the focus was not just on the events of 1916, but of a new Ireland and a new proclamation from the School Children and their hopes for the future of Ireland.
The final show of the weekend, Centenary on RTÉ, really summed up the experience of the weekend. I was so proud to be in Dublin at the weekend, and watching Centenary and seeing the wealth of Irish Talent marking the events of the Irish History was wonderful. It made me proud to be Irish, proud of our History, our culture and our people. It also gave me hope for the future of this proud nation.
If you haven’t seen Centenary, watch it on the RTÉ Player
Finally, like throughout Irish History, we as a people are not defined by a single event. Whether rebellion, civil war, emigration or growth. But what we are is continually inspired by our past. Whether it is our cultural past such as alluded to in Arthur O’Shaugnessy’s poem Ode
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;—
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.
Or the words of the Proclamation issued in 1916 where we continue to live up to the ideals set within it to “guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens” and “cherishing all the children of the nation equally”
We can be proud of what we have achieved in the last 100 years. Let us now look forward as Proud Irishmen and Irishwomen to the next 100 and live up to ideals of the republic.
IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.
Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.
We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.
The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.
Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.
We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God. Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.
Signed on Behalf of the Provisional Government.
Thomas J. Clarke,
Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh,
P. H. Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt,
James Connolly, Joseph Plunkett