Tuesday 17 October 2017

Marking the march to foundation of the State - not just armed highlights

1916 Rising was just the start of a series of events which led to freedom and these also deserve to be honoured, writes William Lavelle

COMMEMORATIONS: Both Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins were instrumental in crafting the Irish state
COMMEMORATIONS: Both Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins were instrumental in crafting the Irish state

William Lavelle

Why is it that we rarely celebrate the Irish State? It may not yet be the State which many aspire, be that in terms of ideals of economic, social, cultural or political goals. But still it's our achievement and we have a lot to be proud of. We have a sovereign, independent and democratic state which is the envy of many activists around the world who still yearn for their country to be free from external domination or internal despotism.

Yet we don't celebrate our Statehood in Ireland and do little to honour the foundation of our State. Yes, we did mark 1916; and we marked it very well. The programme of events captured the public's hearts and minds while engendering a mature and responsible commemoration of the Rising and of Irish freedom.

But the Rising itself was and must be seen as just the start of much greater historical arc leading to the foundation of the State. There are many points on this arc which should be marked with similarly-scaled Centenary Commemorations of their own. But will they be? I fear there is a real risk that the 1916 commemorations could end up archived in our minds as a one-off period of celebration, while any further commemorations of subsequent key events in the period leading to 1923 could fade away in a fog of public lack of interest.

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