Saturday 25 May 2019

1916 event has found a simple formula that works

Captain Paul Conlon with his son Senan. Picture: Tony Gavin
Captain Paul Conlon with his son Senan. Picture: Tony Gavin
President Michael D Higgins lays a wreath. Photos: Tony Gavin
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

It took just 37 minutes to commemorate 103 years of our nation's 'frail heart' and 'frayed history'.

There was no mention of the troubled times facing this island as the real defenders of the peace and State leaders arrived at the GPO to mark the Easter Rising - but anybody looking for a poignant link could find it themselves.

Defence Forces chaplain Fr Séamus Madigan gave thanks for the dreams, wisdom and bravery of the 1916 leaders.

He asked that we look "beyond borders and horizons" and listen to the "voices that challenge".

The now annual ceremony on O'Connell Street to mark the Rising has become somewhat formulaic.

It doesn't draw massive crowds or indeed lend itself to emotive speeches - but as an event it's all the better for it.

The roll-call of dignitaries is small. This year the Government only had Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris, Defence Minister Paul Kehoe and Higher Education Minister Mary Mitchell O'Connor. Former President Mary McAleese also made the effort.

Down to the exact minute every year, President Michael D Higgins arrives to inspect the guard of honour. Little more than 1,000 people, including many tourists who were rambling in the Sunday sunshine, watched as Mr Higgins played his part.

Captain Paul Conlon, who has completed tours of duty in the Lebanon and Congo, was given the privilege of reading the proclamation.

He reminded us: "The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past."

The Tricolour atop the GPO was lowered to half-mast and raised again, either side of a minute's silence for those who died in the pursuit of Irish freedom.

And as the National Anthem rang out, the Air Corps performed a fly past. Another year done without any fuss.

Irish Independent

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