Sunday 4 December 2016

Easter 2016, our collective past

Published 27/03/2016 | 02:30

'There is no doubt that the Easter Rising was the most significant event in the subsequent, painful birth of the Republic'
'There is no doubt that the Easter Rising was the most significant event in the subsequent, painful birth of the Republic'

History is important. This statement would seem self- evident, but in a modern society such as ours, there can be a tendency to turn our backs on the past, to look down on it, or to treat it as a time to disregard. We live in a time of rapid change, after all, in a time of progress, heralded by the advent of the worldwide web. In an era such as this, it sometimes seems that we prefer to define ourselves in terms of where we are going and not where we have come from.

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The events to commemorate Easter Rising 1916 today, tomorrow and throughout this week, and indeed this year, are important, therefore, in that they will allow us to consider where we have come from, in all of its glories, in each of its cruel and blood-soaked manifestations, so that we might learn and know all the more where we are going at this, such a break-neck pace, and what we might do when we eventually get there.

So these events do matter. Of course they do. History is nothing if not the story of the past that is in equal measure both significant and true. There is no doubt that the Easter Rising was the most significant event in the subsequent, painful birth of the Republic. Most modern historians would agree that there is no absolute truth, but perhaps the greatest benefit of this commemoration, the manner of which, it must be acknowledged, has left many people feeling a little uncomfortable, is that it has provided some belated perspective to the events of 1916, perspective by and large shown to be well supported by the facts of that time.

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