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Castle flag ceremony kicks off year of Rising commemorations


The ceremony at Dublin Castle was attended by President Michael D Higgins and other dignitaries

The ceremony at Dublin Castle was attended by President Michael D Higgins and other dignitaries

The ceremony at Dublin Castle was attended by President Michael D Higgins and other dignitaries

The Official 1916 commemorations were launched yesterday to the sound of bodhrans, bagpipes and Lambeg drums.

The first commemorative event of 2016 took place at Dublin Castle, with a flag-raising ceremony under heavy rain.

Two minutes before noon -when the Army No 1 Band were due to begin their recital - a sudden gust blew down all their seats and music stands with a deafening clatter, causing a scramble.

Nobody escaped a soaking - except perhaps President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

The President inspected a military Guard of Honour and there was a moving moment as the names of all 78 on the 1916 roll of honour were read aloud, followed by a minute's silence. Cor na nOg performed Danny Boy, followed by an opening prayer.


The flag of the Citizen Army - which flew from the Imperial Hotel during Easter Week 1916 - and the flag of the IRB and the tricolour, which were flown from the GPO, were raised before the national anthem was played.

Amongst those present were Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Joan Burton, Sinn Fein president Martin Mc Guinness, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and EU commissioner Phil Hogan.

Afterwards, 1916 relatives Richard and Monica Comerford - the grandchildren of Philip Clarke of the Irish Citizen Army, killed in the fighting at St Stephen's Green - said they had deeply enjoyed the ceremony.

"It was very well done," said Ms Comerford.

Later, a peace proms took centre stage at the Convention Centre to showcase the music of the Cross Border Orchestra of Ireland and the 32-County Children's Choir, took centre stage at the Convention Centre.

There was plenty of music to mark the seminal year at the event, which was arts minister Heather Humphrey's idea.

Over 2,000 guests, including Dublin Lord Mayor Criona Ni Dhalaigh, TDs, senators, councillors and a diverse range of other community members, were invited to the New Year's Day event at the National Convention Centre in Dublin.

Broadcaster Joe Duffy, historian Diarmaid Ferriter and equality activist Eamon Farrell were all present.

In an address before the concert, minister Humphreys said they had developed a "really exciting programme" for the year ahead - "and the list is still growing," she added.

It has been a time of "enormous creativity and extremely hard work" since the launch last March, the minister said.

The 500 young musicians on stage, under conductor Greg Beardsell began with a U2 medley of Pride and New Year's Day - neatly including another very Irish motif with a suggestion of St Patrick's Day marching bands.


There were beautiful solos by tenor Emmet Cahill - who sang Cavan Girl as a special tribute for the minister - mezzo-soprano Sarah Richmond, from Northern Ireland, who sang One World in Harmony and sopranos Megan Rugy Walsh and Aimee Banks.

There was a playful "drum-off" between the bodhran and the Lambeg drum followed by another between the uilleann pipes and the bagpipes.

But the most beautiful musical moment was Sibeal Ni Chasaide's haunting and moving rendition of Mise Eire - a new arrangement of Padraig Pearse's poem by renowned composer Patrick Cassidy.

The high-energy performance finished with a robust Ireland's Call, and every one was on song for the rest of the commemorative programme in the year ahead.