Sunday 26 February 2017

Observe the Rising - but by getting real about what the leaders stood for

Connolly and Casement's view of the world was based on the notion that we are all connected so let's do more for refugees, writes Joseph O'Connor

Joseph O'Connor

A refugee screams for help after she and her daughter fell into the water after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos
A refugee screams for help after she and her daughter fell into the water after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos

Yesterday evening, I was driving on the north quays of the Liffey, in Dublin city centre, when traffic happened to stop us alongside Rowan Gillespie's cluster of sculptures of Famine-era emigrants, with their pleading hands, tattered clothes and emaciated bodies. Gulls hovered nearby. Shoppers scurried home. "Dad," asked my 10-year-old, "are those statues of the refugees we saw on the news last night?"

As it turns out, yes and no.

One of the things that strikes anyone who has ever studied the Irish Famine is how often the language of silence was used to describe it at the time. "Pen cannot put down what is happening in this country at the moment," one man wrote.

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