On Wednesday 12 November at the GPO, O’Connell Street, Dublin 1, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, An Tánaiste, Joan Burton TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD, officially launched Ireland 2016; a national initiative which includes a programme of events to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916. Ireland 2016, led by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, will develop, coordinate and deliver a programme of activity to honour and remember those who fought and those who died in the 1916 Rising, and to reflect on the legacy of that period.
A number of formal state events will be held over Easter weekend 2016, including a military ceremony to be led by 1916 relatives on Easter Sunday, 27 March 2016. Other key events will include a special State Reception for relatives on Saturday 26 March 26, and a commemoration at Arbour Hill on Sunday 24 April to mark the date on which the Rising actually began.
Ireland 2016 is based on five intersecting themes:
- Remember: recalling the shared history of the island of Ireland;
- Reconcile: honouring all who have built peace and brought people together;
- Imagine: releasing the creativity of the Irish people, in particular young people;
- Present: creatively showing Irish achievements to the world;
- Celebrate: family, community and friendship and renewing a commitment to the ideals of the 1916 Proclamation.
Ireland 2016 will encompass a range of initiatives including:
- Permanent Reminders: €22 million has been allocated for seven flagship capital projects to be developed by Easter 2016;
- State Events: national ceremonies, parades and events will take place to remember those who participated in the Rising and will involve the relatives of those who fought in the Rising;
- Culture Programme: a rich cultural programme will be developed in co-operation with the National Cultural Institutions, the Arts Council and Culture Ireland;
- Young People: a special Education Commemorative Programme will be prepared with the Department of Education and Skills;
- Community: the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will lead an extensive consultation programme with local government and community groups to facilitate ‘ground-up’ initiatives across the country;
- Diaspora: talks, exhibitions, seminars and cultural events will be hosted and organised by Irish embassies across the world to present Ireland 2016 internationally;
- Language: a number of projects are being progressed to reflect the importance of the Irish language to many the 1916 leaders;
- Commemorative Stamps: a special set of commemorative stamps and a series of coins will be issued.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, said that ‘2016 presents us with a once-in-a-century opportunity to create events of celebration and remembrance that are of value in themselves but that also contribute to a greater sense of who we are, what we want to be as a people, what achievements we aspire to for ourselves and for our children…Remembrance on its own is insufficient to honour the ideals and achievements of the men and women who proclaimed our Republic. We can best honour the past by reflecting deeply and seriously on the present, by exploring and celebrating our achievements, and by creatively re-imagining how we should aspire to the ideal of the Republic as proclaimed in 1916’.
Minister Burton observed that ‘a critical and open-minded exploration of these formative years in the history of modern Ireland is an essential step towards lasting reconciliation between the different communities and traditions which share the island of Ireland. It is my hope that these commemorations will leave a lasting legacy –in the form of community events involving local historical societies and community organisations, through historical research and by facilitating our National Cultural Institutions to make widely accessible collections of material which are relevant to the decade of commemorations’.
Minster Humphreys, whose department will lead the Ireland 2016 programme, said that ‘Ireland 2016 is designed to remember, honour, inspire and motivate. I want to get the entire nation involved in 2016; together we can remember and honour our history, while also looking to the future and asking ourselves where we want the country to go in the next 100 years. A team from my department will facilitate a series of county by county workshops to stimulate creativity and activity at local level…I will also be reaching out to the diaspora through our embassy network and Culture Ireland, to ensure Ireland 2016 reaches a global audience. Inclusivity is at the heart of my approach to the commemorations; I want to encourage everyone to get involved in their own way so we can make 2016 a year of imagination and inspiration’.
Learn more about the Easter Rising of 1916: watch a contemporary British Pathé newsreel of the aftermath of the Easter Rising in Dublin; explore the National Library of Ireland’s online exhibition on the Easter Rising: and browse History Ireland’s 2006 special issue, published on the ninetieth anniversary of the Easter Rising.