Turning point: ritual reflects on 1916 Proclamation at time of 'emergency'
Published 22/01/2011 | 05:00
IT'S a little-known ritual that has been taking place every year since the declaration of Irish Independence by Dail Eireann, the revolutionary parliament, at its first meeting in Dublin's Mansion House on January 21, 1919.
And yesterday a small crowd, including Dublin Lord Mayor Gerry Breen, gathered on the anniversary for the 92nd "turning of the seal" ceremony in the dining room at the same table at which the first Dail sat.
A Mansion House spokesperson said the ritual was "private, not mysterious" and has been taking place with a small number of participants.
The "turning of the seal" is the methodical rotation of the old wooden seal of the 12-string harp used on original Dail documents, carried out by Limerick farmer, Billy Maguire, president of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), the secret fraternity set up in the 19th century.
Historian Ruan O'Donnell, from the University of Limerick, told participants it was an apt time to reflect on old traditions at this time of "national emergency".
"It behoves us well to reflect on the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation and draw strength from it," he added.
Organisers say the ceremony is conducted to validate the Dail and courts.
Mr Maguire claims to have inherited the seal through his family.