Wednesday 28 September 2016

Carnival atmosphere as capital bursts back to life following Sunday's solemn State tributes

Published 29/03/2016 | 02:30

Paul Callery, Ken Armstrong, Pauline McCaul, Ronnie Daly, Brendan Hickey, James Langton and Paul Fleming, who took part in the RTÉ 'Reflecting the Rising' event, in Smithfield, Dublin Photo: Maxwells Dublin
Paul Callery, Ken Armstrong, Pauline McCaul, Ronnie Daly, Brendan Hickey, James Langton and Paul Fleming, who took part in the RTÉ 'Reflecting the Rising' event, in Smithfield, Dublin Photo: Maxwells Dublin
RTÉ presenters Anne Cassin and Mary Kennedy at the RTÉ 'Reflecting The Rising' event Photo: Tony Gavin
At the Duck Parade in St Stephen's Green were Georgina Corrigan (4), Isobel Hogan (5), Bronagh Murphy (7), Holly Parson (6), Zoe Roberts (4) and Lucy Ryan (5) Photo: Frank McGrath
RTÉ's Joe Duffy during his live broadcast Photo: Frank McGrath
Shannon Whelan, Gary Farrelly, Jessica Fay and Sean O'Connell from the National Performing Arts School in Merrion Square Photo: Tony Gavin

Tricolours were waved, tweed caps were worn and 99s were eaten as the rain stayed away and the 1916 centenary celebrations continued in the capital.

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Following Easter Sunday's string of solemn State tributes to the men and women who gave their lives for the cause of freedom, the city burst back to life on the 100th anniversary of the day it all began.

Live music, circus acts and vintage vehicles were just some of the attractions that transformed the capital into a carnival for the bank holiday.

If that didn't tickle your fancy, there were also food tastings, film screenings and walking tours both sides of the Liffey as part of RTÉ's 'Reflecting the Rising' spectacular.

Beating the Easter Monday traffic, the O'Flaherty family from Navan drove to Blanchardstown before hopping on the train to the city centre - where they were amused to find a vintage bus once destined for the Meath town parked outside Merrion Square.

However, four-year-old Isabelle and her big brother Evan, who is seven, didn't fancy getting the antique motor home because "it's really old".

Dad Paul O'Flaherty said: "We watched [Sunday's] highlights on television and thought it was very good, so we just decided to come up for the day to see what's going on.

"It's very well run for the kids. Evan would be more into it because they're learning all about [the Rising] at school."

In the heart of the Georgian garden square, despite the fact that the sun wasn't exactly beating down, the queue for whipped ice-cream snaked towards the Oscar Wilde memorial.

But the young thespians from the National Performing Arts School were too busy gearing up to take to the bandstand to join in.

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NPAS co-founder Jill Doyle said: "We have 200 performers aged 7-19 at different events all over the city.

"The kids here are doing a piece called 'We Could be Heroes', which combines the past and the present. We've been working on it for about six weeks."

More than half a million people from across the land are thought to have flocked to the Big Smoke for the family-friendly day out, co-hosted by Ireland 2016.

With hundreds of free events enlivening eight different zones throughout the city, Molly Milotte from Tallaght was simply happy to stroll around town with her partner Michael and their 16-month-old son, Caolfhionn, soaking up the atmosphere.

"It's always nice to have something to do in town. There's just so many people and so much going on," she said.

At the Gaiety Theatre, meanwhile, 'Ireland's busiest woman' Miriam O'Callaghan was still looking as glamorous as ever on her tenth consecutive day working.

Taking a break between hosting two talks at the 'Grand Old Lady of South King Street', the RTÉ star joked: "Sometimes they write that Miriam O'Callaghan is the busiest woman in Ireland - can I just say, even she thinks it's crazy!

"On Saturday night, I went to a charity ball for Cliona's Foundation in Limerick and came home at four o'clock in the morning.

"On Sunday, [I] did a big concert in Collins Barrack for 'A Nation's Voice' with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra. Then in the evening I cooked for 15 members of my extended family."

Praising the respectful nature of the three-day long commemoration, she said: "I think people were worried that in some way the tone would be wrong - but I think the tone has been pitch perfect.

"I think everybody in Ireland has come together as a nation, it's a very nice feeling."

At one of seven synchronised wreath-layings earlier in the day, Aileen Gardner, whose father Tom Walsh fought in the 3rd battalion at Boland's Mills during the Rising, was moved to tears amid the revelry.

She revealed: "When we were small, now and again my dad would go back over what he was fighting for and things like that.

"It's very sad. My two brothers and my sister are dead - I'm the last one of the children [left]."

Her daughter Catherine Reilly, who came along to the ceremony with other members of the family, added: "It's been a very emotional weekend.

"There is a sadness behind it. My grandfather and my great-uncle, Jim Walsh, were part of de Valera's brigade, but they were only boys.

Wreath

"We laid a wreath at Mount Street Bridge this morning and we were thinking [about] the soldiers coming up the road and firing a hundred years ago. My granddad was only 16."

It wasn't just the heroes of the Rising that were recalled during the day of mixed emotions in Dublin - but the unmistakable fashion of the era too. Cutting a dash on O'Connell Street in period costumes, Alice Leahy and her partner Charles Best from Rathmines happily posed for photos for tourists from farther afield.

Draped in a black, handknit shawl from Cleo on Kildare Street, Ms Leahy said: "We always dress up for Bloomsday. I've had this shawl for years and I got the hat in a second-hand shop.

"Charles's hat is also vintage and the waistcoat is by Eddie Doherty, a weaver in Donegal.

"You kind of feel a bit embarrassed at first, but then the number of people who came up to us today and said, 'Thanks for making the effort' - that was nice."

Despite pulling out all the sartorial stops for the centenary, the founder of the Alice Leahy Trust - which works with homeless people in the city - conceded things still aren't perfect a century after Padraig Pearse, James Connolly and more than 400 others paid the ultimate price for Ireland's independence.

"There's two issues now - families becoming homeless, which is a new thing, but also the people who've always been homeless over the years, they're still there and they've always been there, not feeling part of the human race.

"It's very sad. In an ideal world there should be no need for us," she added.

Irish Independent

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