Thursday 29 September 2016

Rith 2016: More than 50,000 run for Irish language as part of Rising commemoration

Published 15/03/2016 | 10:56

Some of the participants in Rith 2016
Some of the participants in Rith 2016

MORE than 50,000 people have taken part in a relay run across all 32 counties as part of one of the biggest commemorative events of the 1916 Easter Rising.

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Rith 2016 finished at Trinity College in Dublin yesterday, with the national event having visited every county over the previous 11 days.

As part of the race, runners passed along a baton which contained a message from President Michael D Higgins.

“Is fearr rith maith ná drochsheasamh – they say it is better to run away well than to stay and make a bad stand," the President said in a statement yesterday. 

"As [Rith 2016] draws to a close here, the fine people who have taken part in this feat have not only run well, but they have done a thoroughly excellent job. And it is most fitting that they should come to the finish line here in Dublin, a place where a brave and courageous stand was taken 100 years ago.

“It was ever the intention that the Irish language would play a part in the country’s health – in its mental health and in its healthy outlook in the first instance – but also in a wellbeing that would benefit the public as a whole in every way.

Some of the participants in this year's Rith 2016
Some of the participants in this year's Rith 2016

"The Irish language featured in the general revival of spirit and morale that inspired the nation, a revival which we are commemorating in a special way this year. And the Irish language still has its role to play in the raising of spirits and courage that we need for the years ahead.

"In the early years of the revival, the Irish language spread across the country, bestowing information and self-respect on the people.

"I myself see the similarities between the message promulgated at that time and this feat of travel where people with fantastic Irish, with rusty Irish, with half-remembered Irish, or indeed with only a few words of Irish, ran from Corca Dhuibhne in Kerry to Carn Tóchair in Derry and through hundreds of places in between, across all 32 counties of this island, illustrating and proving that there is life, and drive, and determination, and vigour in the Irish language despite all the hardships it has endured throughout history.”

Rith, which started in 2010 with 10,000 people taking part, is a biennial festival that aims to celebrate the Irish language.

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