Those who say we shouldn’t celebrate the 1916 rising are seriously lacking in Irish pride. Many say that we could put the money to better use, or that it will cause sectarian feuds. However, countries throughout the world celebrate their independence days every year, like the 4th of July or Bastille Day. It’s the first ever centenary celebration for the 1916 rising and we should embrace this once in a lifetime celebration.
While we struggle to form a stable government, the 1916 celebrations remind us of a time when we had strong political leaders with visionary ideas, who were willing to die for our freedom. Politicians who strived for greatness not mediocracy, and could work with each other through the toughest times our nation has seen, unlike Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny who can’t seem to put their differences aside to solve anything.
Celebrating in 2016, the centenary of the 1916 rising is also important to acknowledge all those who fought and died for our independence. Both men and women such as Pearse and Markievicz alike should be celebrated for their bravery and achievements. We need not forget the atrocities but embrace the events of 1916 and relive one of the greatest stories of our nation, small yet mighty fighting against the British for our independence.
Last week, schools and third-level colleges across Ireland celebrated Proclamation Day, commemorating events of Ireland in 1916 and creating a vision for the country in the future. It’s important to teach the children of our nation the struggles and triumphs we faced.
But the celebration is not just about history. The programme for the centenary has seven categories; State Ceremonial, Historical Reflection, Cultural Expression, Community Participation, Global and Diaspora, An Teanga Beo, and Youth and Imagination. The number seven reflecting the number of signatories on the 1916 Proclamation. The 1916 celebrations are about so much more than our history, they’re about embracing our culture and looking to the future.
We’re a country that prides itself in its rich culture, the Irish language, traditional Irish music and the famous Irish writers that romanticised Ireland. It would be almost hypocritical of us to not celebrate such an important date in our history.
While some of us engage in singing old rebel songs in the wee hours of the night on the way home from Coppers, the 1916 celebrations are a more tolerant approach to our cultural pride. It comes around every one hundred years and is a celebration of us, our history, culture and future. What’s not to like?
For as long as I can remember Irish history has been the confusing, constantly splitting of something and notoriously difficult essay writing subject I was spoon fed in school. With the centenary celebrations of the 1916 Easter Rising just around the corner the subject has naturally been on my mind.
My thoughts on the anniversary will differ from most of you reading this. I find it very difficult to care about something that happened 100 years ago. I’ve only read about the actions of ghosts, of those who’s ink in the history books dried off long ago. I can never put myself in the rebels’ shoes. I’ve never heard malicious gun fire and I’ve never seen anyone mortally wounded. The closest I’ve ever felt to the Rising is seeing the bullet marks still visible on the pillars of the GPO on O’Connell Street.
Even after all those chapters for the Leaving Cert and documentaries I find it very difficult to feel a great deal towards those who fought for us. I know of no family members who took part in those bloody events and I don’t know of any related events that may have taken place in my hometown of Newbridge, Co. Kildare.
Of course ignorance is bliss but the simple fact is I’ve never felt the curiosity to delve any deeper. Of course I don’t believe we should’ve simply rolled over and stayed with the Kingdom. Ireland grew from that day. Through the Civil War and economic depression and through the darkest days of the Troubles, beautiful moments emerged. From Italia ’90 to the Good Friday Agreement there is more than conflict to be proud of.
Practically speaking the argument of focusing on the present remains. The cost of the celebrations will undoubtedly add up the hundreds of thousands, most likely millions. The only actual problem I have with the celebrations is the cost. There are numerous more pressing issues within Irish society at present more deserving of the funds. Housing, mental health care and state of Irish Water are more worthy of our attention and finances.
It is not that I am not grateful. I do thank them. I do know I can look up at the flags and listen to the speeches gratefully, but a year spent discussing and celebrating the actions of history could have been a year spent working towards the future rather than looking back.