News 1916

Monday 27 February 2017

Nicola Anderson: At 1.15, each place seemed to shudder with the memory of desperate days

Nicola AndersonNicola Anderson

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
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
Michael O'Rahilly

At each site - hard won and even harder relinquished, the bloodstains only faded by the passing of a century - a wreath was solemnly laid. The synchronisation was done along the same military lines as the operations of 1916.

The GPO - centrepiece of the rebellion, where Pearse read the Proclamation of the Republic on the steps.

Moore Street - at the butcher's shop, where the wounded James Connolly was taken, badly injured, lying with three other wounded Volunteers and a British soldier.

The Four Courts - where commandant Ned Daly held the garrison, despite only having 150 of the 400 Irish Volunteers that he had expected to show up. His eyes had filled with tears when Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell delivered Pearse's surrender note.

Dublin Castle - where the Irish Citizen Army, under Captain Seán Connolly, shot dead a policeman but failed to take the fortress, retreating instead to nearby City Hall, where they were besieged by over 200 soldiers.

The Royal College of Surgeons - where Commandant Michael Mallin and Countess Markievicz garrisoned the Irish Citizen Army after realising that St Stephen's Green was too vulnerable.

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

Boland's Mills - now an invisible ghost in the swanky 'Silicon Docks', but where de Valera's men were shelled by the British battleship Helga.

Jacob's Biscuit Factory - now the National Archives and the DIT on Aungier Street, where Peadar Kearney, composer of the National Anthem, served under Thomas MacDonagh

And the South Dublin Union workhouse - now St James's Hospital, where Nurse Margaretta Keogh was accidentally shot dead and Éamon Ceannt held command alongside WT Cosgrave, later Taoiseach of the new Free State.

At 1.15pm yesterday, each key location seemed to shudder with the memory of those desperate days, not so very long ago, when Irish men and women had fought furiously for the freedom of a nation, realising, sooner or later, that the venture was doomed.

Everyone was conscious that this was the 'real' centenary and the note of solemn reflection struck on Easter Sunday only intensified.

Each ceremony saw the same programme unfold, with a piper from the Defence Forces School of Music, followed by a National Colour Party marching into position.

At the Four Courts, Mrs Justice Susan Denham spoke passionately about the role women had played and recalled the humanity displayed by the Irish Volunteers when a water mains burst and threatened to drown all in the cells of the Bridewell.

At Moore Street, the mood was tense when Minister Heather Humphreys was drowned out by protesters calling for her resignation because of her stance on the preservation of the key buildings.

A republican protest down Henry Street continued past the place where the wreath-laying was to happen. The protesters lingered, but then moved on.

But when the minister began to speak, a small group of protesters dressed in period costume who were behind a black screen blocking off the area, rose up in unison.

"Shame on you," they chanted, shouting: "Out, out, out."

The minister was clearly uneasy, but continued.

"Your ancestors were part of a movement that changed the fault lines of history," she told the 1916 relatives in attendance. She told them that number 16 Moore Street was "an iconic location in our history, the scene of the last meeting of the Military Council of the newly proclaimed Irish Republic".

Afterwards, Brendan Plunkett, whose father John had lived at the butcher's shop at number 16, said the protest had been ill-timed and in poor taste, but acknowledged: "This is an historical war zone. The preservation of Moore Street is of paramount importance."

Maria White Fitzpatrick was also present; she is a great- grandniece of Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell, whom she described as a private woman until her death in 1957. She recalled her mother speaking of 'Aunt Lizzie' as a woman to be reckoned with. "It was her way or no way," she said with a chuckle.

Around the corner at Henry Place, Australian Eamon McNamara (23), who is studying the Good Friday Agreement for a Masters, was immersed in his surroundings.

Deeply enjoying the centenary events, he commented that Australia Day was "much more tense" because of the controversy over the treatment of the indigenous people.

"It's brilliant to be here for this," he said.

The ceremonies concluded, then it was time for a change of mood. The city shook off all sombre memories, and the party started. The very best kind of party.

On O'Connell Street, an impromptu singsong of 'The Foggy Dew' ended with rapturous applause.

RTÉ's 'Reflecting the Rising' programme was a showcase of awesome proportions, with re-enactments, talks and events galore and every corner of the city heaved with a sea of people thoroughly enjoying themselves.

A group of neighbours from Ballybough were resplendent in period dress.

A 'Volunteer' man in full military regalia was licking an ice-cream on Wicklow Street. It was the good stuff - guaranteed Irish and lovingly handmade. The men of 1916 would have been queuing up too.

The city basked under unforecast sunshine - again the very best kind of sunshine.

There were picnics on the grass in St Stephen's Green.

At Dublin Castle, actor James McMahon - playing the policeman at the gates - had just been 'shot' for the 13th time at a highly absorbing re-enactment.

"I've figured out that the best thing to do is to drop against the wall. It looks more realistic," he said, estimating that they had played before 1,000 people by the afternoon.

Irish Independent

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