Saturday 10 December 2016

Encouragingly, this seemed a genuine milestone in our nation's history

Published 29/03/2016 | 02:30

Ciaran (9) and Dara (7) Whelan enjoy Easter Monday in Dublin Photo: Mark Condren
Ciaran (9) and Dara (7) Whelan enjoy Easter Monday in Dublin Photo: Mark Condren

Was it for this? Well, it was certainly an excellent start.

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As we face into a decade of commemorations, a harmonious note has been struck from the beginning.

There has been none of the triumphalism of the 50th celebrations in 1966 - which saw empty seats and the absence of 'certain prominent persons' at the GPO and the frantic fumbling for keys after the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin was accidentally locked out of the Garden of Remembrance.

This was very different.

Better organised for one thing, but much more importantly, it was intelligently thought out.

Here, we had nuance and sensitivity, as well as heart and soul.

Singer Jack L is pictured performing RTE's 'Centenary' at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. The show itself was the culmination of the national broadcaster's programme of events marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Singer Jack L is pictured performing RTE's 'Centenary' at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. The show itself was the culmination of the national broadcaster's programme of events marking the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising Photo: Frank Mc Grath
RTÉ presenters Anne Cassin and Mary Kennedy at the RTÉ 'Reflecting The Rising' event Photo: Tony Gavin
Shannon Whelan, Gary Farrelly, Jessica Fay and Sean O'Connell from the National Performing Arts School in Merrion Square Photo: Tony Gavin
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
Garda Mark Massey, who is stationed at Knock Airport, pictured with sisters Róisín O'Rahilly and Iseult Broglio after the wreathlaying ceremony on Dublin's Moore Street. Garda Massey's great grandfather Edward Dunphy was a Dublin metropolitan policeman in the GPO during the Rising and was let go by Michael O'Rahilly (Iseult and Róisín's father) after the rebels had taken over the GPO Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Edel Quinn (grand daughter of Mary Ann Rooney, Cumann na mBan) and Brian Cleary (grandson of Irish Volunteers VP Tomas B Cleary) who unveiled a plaque in Athenry Photo: Andrew Downes
Claire O'Keeffe of the Defence Forces Band at the National Monument on Grand Parade, Cork City Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Minister for Education Jan O'Sullivan TD lays a wreath at the Athenry ceremony Photo: Andrew Downes
Patrick Pearse's great grand nephew Fearghas Mac Lochlainn reads the Proclamation at Pearse's Cottage in Rosmuc, Connemara Photo: Andrew Downes
Áine Leahy from Ovens at the Cork celebrations. Photo: Darragh Kane
Tánaiste Joan Burton lays a wreath at the monument in Ashbourne, Co Meath Photo: Gerry Mooney
RTE Radio Presenter Joe Duffy performs an outside broadcast on O’Connell Street, as part of the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising (in partnership with Ireland 2016) celebrations on Easter Monday

The brickbat subtlety of 'Ireland Inspires' - the doomed initial government plan of two years ago, with a promotional video flashing up images of Bono, Queen Elizabeth, David Cameron, Samuel Beckett and WB Yeats - proved a fortunate dress rehearsal.

That was the kind of crassly bland tomfoolery which we might have had to contend with over the past weekend.

The authorities were shown the error of their ways and they thankfully chose to engage their brains instead.

It was, perhaps, a concern for the outgoing government that if there was a vacuum then Sinn Féin might threaten to dominate the narrative. But no matter.

Meaningful

What we wanted was something meaningful, something thought-provoking, something we could truly get behind.

And miracle of miracles, that was what we got.

The reflective mood of Easter Sunday, as we stood outside the GPO and lined the streets of the capital, took in all strands. At that moment, 100 years melted away and we finally 'felt it'.

Encouragingly, it seemed to be a genuine milestone in our nation's young history - not so much the conclusion of something but the starting-off point of the next stage.

We may not have an elected government but given the election results, what we do have are representatives now keenly aware that the Irish people care very much about social injustice - and therefore so must they.

We might even be closer to achieving the Republic of the Proclamation.

Yesterday too, was another milestone which should provoke further thought about the kind of country in which we want to live.

The gloriously happy, feel-good expanse of festivities right across the city proved that we do not need to get ossified to have a good time.

Contrast this with St Patrick's Day when it is now traditional for families to hastily bolt following the parade, to allow the drunken hoards to gallivant, unfettered, amid the afternoon and into the dawn.

All ages yesterday lifted their voices on O'Connell Street to 'The Foggy Dew'.

It was wonderful. Could we do it again?

Irish Independent

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