Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Athy's 1916 commemoration lectures

Kildare County Council has produced the third edition of the commemorative programme for this year’s centenary ceremonies in connection with the 1916 Rising.  The programme is built on seven strands which taken together reflect the themes of remembering, reconciling, presenting, imaging and celebrating.

The first strand of State and local ceremonial events focuses on remembering and honouring those who took part in the Easter Rising.  Historical reflection designed to deepen our knowledge and understanding of what happened in 1916 is the second strand.  The Irish language, which had a central place in the ideals of Pearse and many of his colleagues, is intended to be celebrated as another strand of the planned programme for 2016. 

Involving the current young generation in a range of imaginative activities to stimulate historical exploration is another strand of the 2016 programme.  In a sense, this complements the cultural expression theme of the commemoration events which seeks to encourage all community and art organisations to reflect on the events of 1916 and to visualise how those events impacted on the Ireland of the past and how they will impact on the Ireland of the future.

Those last two strands neatly merge into the penultimate strand which under the heading of community participation seeks to encourage the broadest possible community and voluntary involvement in every town and village in the county.  Those who for one reason or another left Ireland to live and work abroad are not forgotten and they are invited to join us in remembering and commemorating the events of 1916.  The programme of events organised throughout the county is quite impressive and copies of the County Council’s programme can be obtained from the local Council offices.

Here in Athy a small group came together some months ago to organise a number of commemorative events for the 1916 centenary.  Between the 22nd March and the 17th April we will see a diverse range of activities starting with a lecture series in Athy’s Art Centre on Tuesday, 22nd March at 8.00 p.m.  This will be the first of four lectures to be held each Tuesday up to the 12th April, all in the Arts Centre and all starting at 8.00 p.m. In keeping with all other events organised for the 1916 commemoration, admission to the lectures is free.

The lecture series is as follow:-

                        22nd March      James Durney, Author and Historian

                                                ‘Foremost and Ready – County Kildare in 1916’

                        29th March       Dr. Des Marnane, Historian and Author

                                                ‘Saving the Honour of Tip – Tipperary in 1916’

                        5th April           Padraig Yates, Author and Historian

                                                ‘Looters , dissenters and crime in Dublin during 1916’

12th April         Francis Devine, Author, Historian and currently editing a special 1916 issue of the Journal of the Irish Labour History Society

‘From Lockout to Rising – The ITGWU, ICA, Liberty Hall and the 1916 Rising’

The lecture on the 5th April will feature an extra unique element.  Eamon Ceannt’s uilleann pipes will be played by Tos Quinn at the start of that lecture.

The other 1916 events include an ‘Athy in 1916’ exhibition in the Heritage Centre and a theatrical presentation in the Arts Centre by Athy Musical and Dramatic Society exploring the lives of the 1916 leaders through music, song and poetry.  Other events are planned and will be listed on the programme which will issue shortly. 

The final event will take place in Emily Square on Sunday, 17th April with the reading of the proclamation, the unveiling of a plaque and the raising of the Tricolour.  Local clubs, groups and individuals will be invited to parade behind pipers from the four main approach roads leading into Athy and gather in Emily Square for the final solemn ceremony.  This final ceremony will be attended by Mark Wilson, a member of the 1955 winning Dublin football team whose father, a native of Russellstown was a member of the Four Courts Garrison in 1916.  Mark Wilson is the only Athy man whom I have been able to identify as a participant in the Easter Rebellion on the side of the Irish Volunteers.  It is quite possible given Athy’s history of military enlistment that some Athy natives bore arms as members of the British armed forces in Dublin during the Easter rising.

All will be remembered during this centenary year.    

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