The streets of Dublin were crowded as thousands of us gathered to watch the Easter 1916 Centenary Commemoration Parade. The day was bright and dry as the massive crowds made their way along the long parade route which led towards O’Connell Street. There were wide screens to display the formal ceremony outside the GPO, as the main street of Dublin city was reserved for family member and relatives of those who fought in 1916.
The parade of the Irish Defence Forces received huge cheers as they passed us, army bands, navy services and all types of military vehicles. President Michael D. Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Dublin’s Mayor Criona Ni Dhalaigh and the Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, all received a warm welcome on this very special day. Everyone watched and was moved by the reading of the Proclamation by Captain Peter Kelleher outside the GPO, the lowering of the Irish tri-colour flag and the army band playing Mise Eire.
The whole city stood still to remember that day a hundred years ago when a small band of rebels took the GPO and declared an Irish Republic. The Irish Air Corps with their plumes of green white and orange flew over O’Connell Street which brought huge cheers from everyone watching below. This important part of our history was honoured, the brave men and women of 1916 were recalled and their effort to fight for Irish freedom commemorated on this very special Easter Sunday 2016.
Reflecting the Rising
On Easter Monday, the city was transformed for RTE’s large scale event organised for families and all those with an interest in the Rising.
Artist and writer Don Conroy and I were delighted to take part. We gave two 1916 story and drawing workshops in DIT College, Aungier Street, (site of the former Jacob’s biscuit factory and the garrison led by Thomas MacDonagh and Captain John MacBride during the 1916 Rising).
There was fun and hundreds of events and talks on all aspects of the Rising and re-enactments by drama groups with packed events in O’Connell Street, Smithfield and St. Stephen’s Green. Alongside the family activities and entertainment in in St Stephen’s Green, there was the poignant reminder by a children’s drama group of all the children who died during the Rising.
The skies stayed bright and sunny and the marvellous events of the weekend were finished off by RTE’s Centenary concert, broadcast live that night from the Bord Gais Theatre.
It was a weekend to remember and a fitting tribute to Padraig Pearse, Tom Clarke, James Connolly Sean MacDiarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, Eamonn Ceannt and Joseph Plunkett and all those who went out a hundred years ago, on that Easter Monday 1916.