Sunday 23 October 2016

Easter Monday in Merrion Square made me proud to be Irish

Published 02/04/2016 | 02:30

Easter Monday events in Dublin had a joyful family atmosphere. Photo: Mark Condren
Easter Monday events in Dublin had a joyful family atmosphere. Photo: Mark Condren

Without a shadow of a doubt the best day I've spent in Dublin City with my young family was Easter Monday 2016.

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We began our adventure by train from Dunboyne to Pearse Station, (the older children had wanted to go to Tayto Park and grumbled a little, but luckily resigned themselves). Along with a picnic, we strolled to Merrion Square to be completely uplifted by what surrounded us.

Dublin City opened itself to us and there was a real sense of freedom. Money was not required as activities were offered by the artists who kindly shared their talents with our children.

Musicians filled the streets with music for all ages alongside actors and volunteers who dressed in 1916 attire. The army and historians educated us all in different ways on the deep and meaningful history of those who suffered for this land. One really noticeable difference was how clean Dublin looked and how safe the streets were. Despite the huge numbers of people visiting the city we didn't encounter any antisocial behaviour. The atmosphere was pleasant, enjoyable and instilled in our children a sense of pride in their capital city.

Merrion Square oozed a sense of simple fun, peace, calm and enchantment. Children wrote with chalk on old grids that had been laid out, flew tiny kites in the breeze or played skipping. They busily wrote their names and drew pictures on a large cardboard replica of the GPO - most parents had to drag the kids away from the area, which had been laid out with basic arts and crafts materials for them to glue, colour and stick to their hearts' content.

Children ran on the hill with giant balls, played under a coloured parachute and sang songs of their choice (many of them Irish) in a tent with a very kind presenter with a microphone.

Merrion Square - having been home to Oscar Wilde, Daniel O'Connell and WB Yeats in times gone by - became a hub of family activity, sharing, fun and games in the spring sunshine, and a mirror of how the past has shaped the blessings we have today.

A century ago, the children played similar outdoor games with simple materials, often turning the old into new in this very city. There was a sense of community among the Irish. On Easter Monday we were so privileged to fill the now peaceful square with our families and enjoy all that our ancestors wanted for the country - freedom, and that which makes us Irish.

With our children we explored the traditions of art and music, our creativity and our sense of family and togetherness, which binds us to those in 1916 and before.

This was a day to be proud of Ireland and where we have arrived, collectively and as a community. The children of 1916 may have lived in dark times, but the vibrancy of the city today, the rainbows that nature offered over the weekend, the effort the people of Ireland put into creating this event, along with the smiles on our children's faces reflect how the essence of being Irish is still as important to us now as it was to the families of 1916.

Name and address with editor

The nation needs new heroes

On the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, I find it difficult to let the event pass without comment.

Does anyone really believe that the Republic of Ireland is an independent country? As far as I can see, we have just substituted the British flag for the EU one.

With a €200bn government debt, we have lost our financial independence and the ability to govern ourselves. We cannot even conclude a national budget without referring to the ECB and the IMF. With every man, woman and child in the country owing circa €45,000, what kind of a future are we inflicting on our children? The current Government's corrective action is to give us hand-outs so we can buy new cars, take second holidays - and to hell with the debt. Do we really believe any prospective government would act any differently? They obviously cannot do anything that would put their cushy jobs at risk.

Our independence has not, as people might think, been squandered in recent years, it has been heading in this direction since the 1960s - and it is the Irish voter who has made it so. It is not altogether the electorate's fault. Typically, we do not have an alternative party or candidate to vote for. As we say, "Shur, they are all the same." The problem is that we have had very few competent men and women putting themselves forward for election to the Dáil.

What we need is 80 high-calibre people in the Dáil, men and women at the top of their professions who care enough about Ireland and its people to give up five years of their lives (ie, put their careers on hold for just one term in government) to put the country back on its feet and restore the independence that the people of 1916 gave their lives for.

I would ask the question: Are there 80 such people in Ireland? And, if there are, would the Irish people elect them if given the opportunity? If not, we should ask the UK to take us back into the Union and accept that the Irish race cannot govern themselves.

Declan Malone

Celbridge, Co Kildare

TDs and tram drivers, behave

Memo to TDs and Luas drivers: When you applied for your jobs, it was on the basis that (a) you wanted to help govern the country or (b) you wanted to drive a tram, and the terms and conditions (of both jobs) were attractive to you.

If you now think your driving skills are no longer adequately recompensed, or if the thought of participating in the government of the country scares you, then please seek alternative employment more suited to your ambitions and abilities. The electorate recently voted for a government, not for an opposition. TDs should respect the views of the people as expressed in the composition of the Dáil, and if they are unable or unwilling so to do, they should resign their seats and not be allowed to stand in the resultant by-elections.

Roger Blackburn

Abbey Hill, Naul, Co Dublin

Remembering Ronnie Corbett

After watching Ronnie Corbett on TV over the years, I will remember a lovely, lovely jolly wee man, with a big heart, who brought laughter and joy to millions. "It's good night from me." "And it's good night from him."

May he rest in peace.

Brian Mc Devitt

Glenties, Co Donegal

Stonewalling on so-called 'fall'

I heard Tommy Sands singing that Humpty Dumpty was pushed. Let us congratulate Tommy for raising the subject - for years a wall of silence has surrounded the issue.

Tom Gilsenan

Beaumont, Dublin 9

Irish Independent

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