Civil War dead to be honoured in final year of Decades of Centenaries programme this year

Culture Minister Catherine Martin. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Allison Bray

A formal ceremony offering reconciliation and remembrance of everyone who lost their lives during the Civil War are among some of the events taking place this year as the Decade of Centenaries programme winds down.

Other events include a new exhibition at the National Archives as part of a programme to highlight the Irish Free State’s entry into the League of Nations and a new digital mapping programme in conjunction with University College Cork mapping Irish Civil War fatalities.

The Yeats Society will also be involved in a commemoration project marking the centenary of poet WB Yeats winning the 1923 Nobel Prize in Literature.

They are among “a range of engaging and accessible initiatives and projects to commemorate important centenaries occurring this year,” as part of the 2023 Decade of Centenaries programme, Arts and Culture Minister Catherine Martin announced today.

Announcing the publication of the programme during a visit to the National Library with members of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations, she said the final year of the program will also highlight the centenaries of some of the greatest atrocities of the Civil War as well as the end of the conflict but also “key cultural and societal milestones.”

The final year of the programme will also continue to involve State and local authorities, national cultural and educational institutions as well as arts, media and creative communities “that support respectful public engagement with these centenaries and broader themes.”

“Historical accuracy, academic integrity and archival discovery are again key tenets of the commemorative programme for this final year,” she added.

She thanked everyone who has taken part in the centenaries commemoration programme, stating: “Together, we have addressed the complexity of our history and the challenges linked to commemoration, and we will continue to do so this year as we navigate through this sensitive final phase, marking the emergence of an independent Irish State in the midst of a traumatic Civil War.

"While perspectives may have varied, we have engaged in respectful debate and discussion, supported by a wealth of scholarship and material from national and local archives, including newly digitised sources.”

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "Over the past 10 years, as a people and a nation, we have endeavoured to move from memory and contested history – often still deeply personal and deeply-felt – to mature reflection and historical exploration of the events that have shaped our country.

"It has not always been easy or uncontested; but we have striven to better understand, and to acknowledge that we may share a common history, but not always a common memory or understanding of events and their consequences.”