The Proclaimers: Updating the document for a new generation
Schoolchildren are being asked to write a new version of the 1916 Proclamation, writes Graham Clifford
With the GPO behind him and the 'Irish Republic' flag flying from the roof of the building on Sackville Street, Patrick Pearse cleared his throat, straightened the parchment in his hand and loudly and clearly addressed those gathered.
"IRISHMAN 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," he started.
The Proclamation, signed by seven signatories, became the blueprint for our emerging State. Soon copies of the document were reproduced and dispersed throughout the country. The Rising had a script; the country a plan for post-independence.
The Irish Independent reported that on the day, "at about 1pm a Proclamation in huge poster form was handed out to the crowd in O'Connell Street declaring an Irish Republic".
And next year, 100 years on from the Rising, as part of the 1916 commemorations, school children are being offered the opportunity to step into the shoes of Patrick Pearse and write their own version - the initiative known as 'the Proclamation for a New Generation'.
While many of the visions and ideals so eloquently proposed by Pearse and his fellow rebels are as relevant now as they were a century ago, school children will look at what challenges face us as a nation today. They will ask if we are living up to the expectations of the visionaries and incorporate into their 600-word pieces what they believe are priorities for future Irish generations.
A multi-cultural state, the Ireland of today differs from that of 1916. Indeed on the website of the Taoiseach's office the Proclamation is translated into both Polish and Chinese.
Equality and liberty are likely to be over-arching principles in the students' proclamations as they try to reflect a modern Ireland in their work.
While the initial Proclamation focuses on the fight for national freedom - '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' - the 2016 proclamations will focus on peace, unity and the importance for Ireland to lead co-operation between the nations of the world.
While school participation in Ireland 2016 initiatives is entirely voluntary the list of schools gearing up to take part in the Proclamation programme is growing by the week. The Department of Education and Skills, which is running education-related commemoration initiatives such as this one, is encouraging schools to try to get lots of young people involved.
A spokeswoman for the 1916 centenary organisers Ireland 2016 said: "Using the 1916 Proclamation as a foundation, primary and post-primary schools are invited to write a new proclamation for 2016, to reflect the values, ideals and aspirations of the generation of 2016 and be unveiled in each school on 'Proclamation Day', 15th March 2016."
A template will be available to download from Scoilnet (www.scoilnet.ie/proclamationtemplate) from November.
Additionally the Ireland 2016 team are inviting schools to record a YouTube video (pictured inset below) of their proclamation. These videos can then be showcased on the Ireland 2016 YouTube channel and shared online.
Students are asked to reflect on the principles and aspirations of the original Proclamation and to write their own version reflecting their vision and hopes for Ireland into the future. Each school may choose to write one proclamation for the whole school - or each class can create their own versions.
Then on Tuesday March 15, 2016 the country will host 'Proclamation Day' when every school in the country is invited to share the results of their 'Proclamation for a New Generation' and all other creative projects relating to 1916 that the student body has developed.
The historic day will begin with a raising of the Irish flag, followed by a reading of the Proclamation. Students will then have an opportunity to read their own proclamations, share ideas, showcase their creative work, whether it is a theatre, dance, visual art or spoken word piece, and celebrate this unique moment together, as a nation.
Full details of this and other initiatives and additional information will be contained on www.scoilnet.ie/ireland2016 and similar pages on the Professional Development Service for Teachers websites - see www.pdst.ie.