My plan is over the coming week and leading up to Sunday 23rd and Monday 24th to mark the real centenary with some posts about my small knowledge of Irish history and in particular the Easter Rising of 1916. I also hope to have a guest post or 2 from the editor of Ireland’s Military Story which recently launched their own Easter 1916 Special.
Easter week in 1916 was a pivotal moment in Irish history and the following executions of the leaders by the British helped to sway public opinion in favour of the rising. Like most things Irish though, it has been mired in political debate ever since and even now, 100 years later, there is still animosity towards the leaders of 1916. I will nail my colours to the mast here, the loss of life by both the British forces, the Irish forces and civilians was horrendous, the decision to summarily execute the leaders was a shameful act by the British and the leaders and signatories of the proclamation died for the cause of Irish freedom from British rule.
As a proud Irishman now living in the USA, an Irish flag flies outside our house and even though I didn’t agree with the state holding the commemoration ceremonies at Easter instead of the real centenary weekend, I was proud to see it done so well and with immense pride from all involved.
Ireland really can be the best little country in the world when it puts to mind to something.
To be available in early March 2016, the book The 1916 Irish Rebellion (University of Notre Dame Press) includes a historical narrative; a lavish spread of contemporary images and photographs; and a rich selection of sidebar quotations from contemporary documents, prisoners’ statements, and other eyewitness accounts to capture the experiences of nationalists and unionists, Irish rebels and British soldiers, and Irish Americans during the turbulent events of Easter Week, 1916.
This weekend the Irish state remembered the men, women and children of 1916 and the Easter rising in a number of state occasions, the highlight of which was a parade down O’Connell St and wreath laying ceremonies across the country. I decided a long time ago that I would wait to commemorate 1916 on the correct anniversary, the weekend of April 23/24th 2016 rather than at Easter. I can see the governments thinking behind holding the events at Easter rather than on the real anniversary but it is flawed thinking. So what if this past weekend was a 3 day weekend anyway, it was not the centenary of an event that took place in April, it was a cop out by the government.
Regardless of this and me not being particularly happy with it, it still doesn’t stop me being proud to be Irish and of the events that did take place over this past Easter weekend. My ex colleagues in the Irish Defence Forces done themselves and the country proud. I think I have watched every video, looked at every photo gallery and to see faces I knew in the parade was great. It was a goal of mine to photograph the centenary parade for Reveille Magazine, but my personal life and changed circumstances meant I now live in the USA and am happy I missed out on the parade as I am living a different and happy life here.
Before I left Ireland I was working with my friend on a Military History Magazine for Ireland. He was the editor and I was the photographer/picture editor and together we brought an idea to fruition and got it published and we are now on Issue 5 with a special 1916 issue also published. It’s available to purchase across Ireland and UK but can also be subscribed to for anyone living overseas. Just go to http://www.irelandsmilitarystory.ie/subscribe and follow the information to get your copy delivered to your door every 3 months.
Ok less of the advertising, I have stated before that I lived within a stones throw of Kilmainham Gaol and went to school in St Michaels CBS which back in 1916 was called Richmond Barracks. Well both of those locations had important roles to play in 1916 and again this weekend. The leaders of 1916 were held in Richmond Barracks before bring brought to Kilmainham Gaol for execution. Living in such an historic part of Dublin gives you a certain outlook on the events of 1916 as it was there that the Rising and it’s leaders met their end, courtesy of the British government.
I hope to have a more comprehensive write up about the 1916 Rising on the weekend of April 23/24th and I may even ask a guest writer to pen a small history and fact based article to compliment my own blog post on the events of April 1916.