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Commemoration marks the 100th anniversary of the handover of Dublin Castle

Michael Collins and other members of the provisional Government took over Dublin Castle from the British 100 years ago today.

President Michael D Higgins inspecting the Guard of Honour.
President Michael D Higgins inspecting the Guard of Honour.
Image: Julien Behal.

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN led a commemoration ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the handover of Dublin Castle today.

President Michael D Higgins, including military leaders as well as former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny and Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese also attended.  

On 16 January 1922 at 1.45pm, the last Lord Lieutenant, or Viceroy, of Ireland formally handed over power and Dublin Castle itself, to the new Provisional Government. On that day the ceremony, held in a room overlooking the square, was concluded within a brief 45 minutes.

After the event Michael Collins wrote to his fiancée: ”I am as happy a man as there is in Ireland today…Have just taken over Dublin Castle.” 

Today’s ceremony marked the 100th anniversary of the historic event – one of the most significant in modern Irish history and a key centenary moment in the Decade of Centenaries Programme.

Six months after the handover, a civil war broke out, with the subsequent events of 1922 profoundly shaping the political landscape of the State.

The State commemoration, featured members of the Defence Forces, took place in the Upper Castle Yard of Dublin Castle today to mark the historic handover by the British army.

NO FEE 100 TH ANNIVERSARY DUBLIN CASTLE JB4 Taoiseach Micheal Martin and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar chatting with Elizabet Berney nee Mulcahy who is the eldest daughter of General Richard Mulcahy born in 1921. Source: Julien Behal

Speaking at event, the Taoiseach, spoke of the threat from a resurgent belief in colonial power and also warned of the danger of populism and disinformation.  

“I think it’s important for us to appreciate how our state’s approach to history, our approach to commemoration, isn’t some abstract matter which is irrelevant to the realities of today. 

“The truth is that we live at a moment when attempts to distort and manage public histories are becoming more and more serious.

“Attempts to demand a closed national narrative, to limit research, to reanimate historical animosities, and to block progress in the name of historical traditions are becoming more and more common.

“We have seen this very dramatically in recent weeks where the Russian government actually criminalised an organisation devoted to documenting the enormous crimes of the Stalinist period.  Historians are literally being threatened and jailed for publishing details about forced labour camps which existed from sixty to a hundred years ago.

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NO FEE 100 TH ANNIVERSARY DUBLIN CASTLE JB2 Taoiseach Micheál Martin arrives for the event at Dublin Castle. Source: Julien Behal

“In a development which any former colonial country should carefully note, there is an attempt to revive imperial claims of rights of dominion over others. Concepts which we had thought disappeared with the lengthy dissolution of empires are actually being tabled in negotiations at this very moment,” he said. 

NO FEE 100 TH ANNIVERSARY DUBLIN CASTLE JB1 The Guard of Honour was drawn from the oldest unit in the Defence Forces, the Third Infantry Battalion, based in Kilkenny. Source: Julien Behal

During today’s event there was strong military involvement.

Along with the formal events to mark the centenary original records describing the handover of Dublin Castle by British Administration to the Irish Provisional Government have also gone on display at the National Archives for the first time in 100 years. 

These documents cast some light on what happened that day, and on its implications for the formation of an independent Irish state.

Among the records on display are minutes of the first meeting of the Irish Provisional Government in the Mansion House on the morning 16 January 1922. The handwriting appears to be that of Michael Collins. Access to the National Archives is open to the public.

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