Thursday 21 September 2017

Dermot Bolger: The 2016 party included all who wished to be invited (unlike the 1966 events)

Participants in the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising event take a break on the merry-go-round in Smithfield on Easter Monday. The 1916 commemorations in Dublin last weekend had a sense of democratic inclusion, and celebrated forgotten figures – from revolutionary women to the children who were killed in the Rising. Photo: Maxwells
Participants in the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising event take a break on the merry-go-round in Smithfield on Easter Monday. The 1916 commemorations in Dublin last weekend had a sense of democratic inclusion, and celebrated forgotten figures – from revolutionary women to the children who were killed in the Rising. Photo: Maxwells

Dermot Bolger

Because this is an Irish revolutionary event, there is, naturally enough, a split about what date the anniversary should properly be marked on. But the 1916 commemoration events that occurred last weekend have proven such a resounding success that I wonder how far back did the government planning start.

In relation to the military parade, most people would date this to the 90th anniversary in 2006, when a dress rehearsal was mounted. But I now suspect that the planning goes back to 2000 and may explain one of the Millennium's most shadowy events. This is the People's Millennium Forest, where Coillte planted a sapling in the name of each household in the State.

The locations were always mysterious as people struggled to locate where their individual tree was planted. But its ecological intent is now obvious. All these new trees were presumably intended to compensate for the equally large number of trees cut down to provide paper to print the feast of books published over the past six months exploring every ramification and personality involved in the Rising.

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