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Dublin: 9 °C Friday 26 April, 2019
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Beautiful weather, smiling faces and emotional moments as Ireland remembers 1916

As it was 100 years ago, the GPO was at the heart of the action.

Posted by on Friday, 26 April 2019

IF IT’S TRUE that practice makes perfect, then Captain Peter Kelleher was certainly well practiced before today.

The Douglas-born military man from the the 27th battalion of the Defence Forces was handed the honour of reading the Proclamation in front of the GPO this afternoon.

On a day when there were no shortage of emotional moments, Kelleher’s delivery of our nation’s first words was especially memorable.

“It was a huge honour,” Captain Kelleher said shortly after he finished the four-minute reading.

I was a little bit nervous in the lead up to it, but I practiced well and I rehearsed well. It was an immensely proud day, I’m humbled by the whole experience really. You know, to walk in the footsteps of the men and women who went through 1916. It was huge honour and a privilege.

Before the parade began to work its way past the GPO, the reading of the Proclamation was part of a choreography designed to evoke memories of the Rising.

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An impeccably observed minute’s silence was contrasted with a heartily sung Amhrán na bhFiann, the entire ceremony bookended by the lowering and raising of the Irish tricolour above the GPO.

The flag of the Irish Republic was flown above the Rising’s headquarters with the Starry Plough also blowing in the wind on the Clerys building opposite.

Beautiful weather for the majority of the commemorations brought thousands onto the streets with families seen sporting different variations of the green, white and orange.

The weather only took a turn for the worse as the parade was finishing up.

27/3/2016 1916 Easter Rising Centenary Celebration Getting the best viewing position was really important today. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

The programme was narrated by Captain Deirdre Carberry, an officer based in the UN training school in The Curragh. She said the crowds of people in attendance really added to the occasion.

I wasn’t expecting the crowds, even as we were being bussed in this morning there was just this feeling of anticipation around Dublin, it was incredible. Even during the minute’s silence you could just hear the emotion.

Captain Carberry explained that her great-grandfather Charles Carberry fought in Marrowbone Lane during the Rising and was interned in Frongoch afterwards.

The details of her familial connection were only made clear as the Rising’s centenary approached and herself and her father set out to research the details properly.

1916 Easter Rising commemoration President Michael D Higgins lays a wreath at the GPO. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Captain Carberry, who has previously served in the Lebanon, said the day off without a hitch.

There’s been so much rehearsing in the last six months, we were rehearsing in the snow, the wind and the rain. So it was great to get such a nice day today I think it just put a pep in everyone’s step.

That pep was certainly in evidence as more than 3,700 personnel from the Defence Forces and emergency services marched on the parade’s route from St. Stephen’s Green to Bolton Street.

27/3/2016 1916 Easter Rising Centenary Celebration A motorcade of armoured vehicles as part of the military parade. Source: Eamonn Farrell/RollingNews.ie

As well as the thousands who attended from around the country and abroad, relatives of those who fought and died in the Rising were also present to observe their ancestors being remembered.

James Connolly Heron said the celebrations worked from a commemorative point of view, although he was critical of some elements. Particularly some problems he saw in the ceremony’s official programme.

“The purpose of commemoration is to remember and pay tribute, so it worked from that point of view, but there were surprising omission in the official programme,” he said.

Countess Markievicz doesn’t appear, The O’Rahilly doesn’t appear, the only leader to be killed in action. And a picture of Edward Daly is replaced by John Daly. Which is surprising given they’re advised by an expert group. 

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Connolly Heron also said that he thinks there should be a Republic Day to remember the rising every year and that those who took part should be put front of centre.

There wasn’t enough emphasis on the men and women of 1916, I think it was a more of a general approach to all who died. I have a difficulty with that, I mean there’s no roll of honour in the programme. I wouldn’t expect the name of every single person who died to be mentioned, but the signatories of the proclamation and those who were executed should be.

1916 Easter Rising commemoration Former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern sit side-by-side beside the GPO. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Barry Lyons of the 1916 Relatives Association has nine different relatives who took part in the Rising.

He said the commemoration did achieve the goal of connecting the Irish people to the events of 100 years ago.

I think it was a celebration of what happened. Obviously there’s an emphasis on trying to celebrate modern Ireland and moving on. But I don’t think it’s any harm to remember, and significantly remember as well.

Asked, what part he felt was most touching, Lyons said the wreath laying ceremony particularly struck a chord with him.

He did, however, mention viewing restrictions for members of the public, something that there were some complaints about.

I’d have to say the wreath laying ceremony as well, that’s always very emotive. I’d like to think the general public got a good sense of that too, because with the seating arrangements within the street it does confine it a little bit.

Today’s ceremonies and parade are only part of the weekend of commemorations, and last night about 4,000 people with familial connections to the Rising met in the RDS.

Lyons said that this was particularly special but he also questioned why there was an emphasis on remembering those who fought on all sides.

It was amazing to see so many people there. There was about 4,000-5,000 people and the fact that everyone was related to someone from 1916 was very significant. Again, with the actual pieces there they tried to convey it for all the people who died in 1916. Now I think there’s a time and a place for that but it wasn’t last night.

Pictures: Ireland marks 100 years since the 1916 Rising >

As it happened: Remembering the Easter Rising >

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About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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