I might as well admit that I have been dreading Easter Weekend this year as it marks 100 years since the Easter Rising here in Ireland. I realise that The Easter Rising probably means little or nothing to most people who don’t have some strong connection with Ireland but I can tell you that it has HUGE connotations for those of us who do.
The Easter Rising was a rebellion aimed at securing independence from British rule. It was a relatively small affair led by a number of visionaries which failed to achieve its aims BUT it was very significant in terms of setting in train the momentum which led to the War of Independence and the eventual signing of the contentious Treaty in 1921 which led to the setting up of the Irish Republic ~ which includes 26 of the 32 counties on the Island of Ireland. This contention then led to a very bitter Civil War within the Republic in the early 1920s and later to the Northern Troubles which erupted in 1969 and prevailed very bitterly until the 1998 Peace Agreement.
That’s my reading of The Easter Rising anyway and there are definitely many different readings of it. It’s important to recognise that the Easter Rising took place during World War I and many Irish people were part of the British Army.
Given all this (and lots more that I haven’t mentioned), you can imagine how all sorts of differing attitudes to the Easter Rising have become embedded in the hearts and minds of all those whose lives have been touched by the legacies of anything associated with that uprising in 1916.
Coming into today, I felt that emotions were still too raw to have big Centenary Commemorations/Celebrations. So, it was with great trepidation that I watched the State Commemoration on television a few hours ago. It was held in Dublin and involved: a wreath laying ceremony for those who died during the Rising; a reading of the Proclamation which was signed by the leaders of the Rising who were executed in 1916; a beautifully composed prayer which looked to our past, present and future in what seemed like a very broadminded, inclusive, pacifist way; and a parade in which all the security and emergency services of the Irish Republic were represented.
There were no speeches and just watching the proceedings, I found myself relaxing and feeling a wave of hope sweep over me as groups like the Irish Army, Police Force, Air Corps, Naval Service, Civil Defence, Coast Guard filed passed with immense dignity.
The discussions on the television indicated that Ireland is coming of age in terms of being able to discuss our history, as well as our current social, economic, religious, and political situations and aspirations in a mature, civilised way.
So, I write this post with a great feeling of warmth about being Irish and with a huge pride in this beautiful country of ours.
Here’s how my patch here in Co. Waterford was looking this afternoon:
Walking along the rocks, it seemed just right to come across this little vision: