31 March 2015: Launch of ‘Ireland 2016’ centenary programme, National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7

Collins Barracks 2015 03 31 (54) (Small)On Tuesday 31 March the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD and Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD were joined by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD and An Tánaiste, Joan Burton TD, at an event in the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks to launch the Ireland 2016 centenary programme, the national and international initiative to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Ireland 2016, led by Minister Humphreys, will commence in August 2015 and will a year-long programme of activity to commemorate the events of the 1916 Rising, to reflect on Irish achievements over the last 100 years and to look towards Ireland’s future. Highlights of the programme will include:

A major exhibition of 1916 archival material at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks;

‘Proclamation Day’, to be be held in all schools on 15 March 2016;

The National Flag and a copy of the Proclamation will be delivered to every school in the country;

A series of State commemorative events, including a parade from Dublin Castle to Parnell Square on Easter Sunday 2016 and a special State Reception for relatives;

Seven new ‘permanent reminders’ at the GPO, Kilmainham Gaol, Pearse’s Cottage, the Military Archives and other sites;

A multi-location public event, to be broadcast on television on Easter Monday 2016, telling the story of Ireland, through music, dance, drama and song;

A series of conferences on 1916 to be conducted in Irish universities;

Cultural events around the globe, to be co-ordinated through Irish embassies and Culture Ireland, including Irish cultural festivals in Washington and London.

Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, said that ‘there are some moments in history when a seed is sown and the old order changes forever. Easter 1916 was a moment when Irish nationalism joined forces with a revolutionary cultural and language movement to forge an irresistible campaign towards self-determination. It is important that the Irish people have the opportunity to come together to celebrate and have pride in Ireland’s independence, and to honour those who gave their lives so that the dream of self-determination could become a reality. Ireland 2016, as a year of reflection and engagement for everyone on this island, goes far beyond the formal marking of a key historical moment. It is a once-in-a-century invitation to people of all ages, at home and overseas, to shape and take part in a diverse range of historical, cultural and artistic activities, all designed to nurture reflection, commemoration, celebration and debate’.

Read Fearghal McGarry’s account of the Easter Rising from the International encyclopaedia of the First World War

Collins Barracks 2015 03 31 (3) (Small)Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, added that ‘I am determined and the Government is determined that Ireland 2016 is not a programme for the elites and the people in the know, but a platform and programme for all our people. “The Republic – republicanism – does not belong to any one group, to any one set of people, or to any one political party. It would be much diminished if it did. We are all of us equally entitled to call ourselves republican. We are all equally entitled to be inspired by the values espoused in the Proclamation of the Republic. We are all of us equally charged to make good in our time on the challenge posed to us by the men who penned that document all of a century ago’.


Collins Barracks 2015 03 31 (11) (Small)The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, observed that ‘since we launched the draft programme for Ireland 2016 last November, my Department has been driving a widespread consultation and engagement process, across Government Departments, civic society and arts and cultural life. We are now presenting a year-long programme of activity designed to remember the pivotal events of the 1916 Rising, reflect on our achievements over the last 100 years and collectively re-imagine our future. I am particularly excited about the education programme, which will be rolled out to every school across the country and will ensure children are at the centre of the commemorations. The arts will also have a key role; my Department is working with the Arts Council and our National Cultural Institutions on a comprehensive programme of cultural events, including a series of concerts at the National Concert Hall celebrating Ireland’s musical, literary and cultural heritage. 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’.

Closing the event, Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD remarked that ‘the Ireland 2016 centenary programme we are announcing tonight is only part of the story. We look forward to continue to engage with citizens and communities across the country over the coming months to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to engage and participate in the programme. So many families have a history of relatives serving in different uniforms during this period that we prepare to commemorate. Now we have an opportunity to re-examine that history; those differences; and to appropriately commemorate all those who were involved in this critical time in our nation’s history. It is also a time to reflect on the Republic that we live in today, and to acknowledge the people who have come from abroad to live here. These new communities enrich our society and it is crucial that we use this period of reflection to reiterate that this Republic belongs to everyone. This is just the beginning of our journey and, over the coming months, further events and initiatives will be added to those already contained in this programme’.

The programme of events and initiatives comprises seven strands:

  1. State ceremonial: Formal commemorative events include a parade from Dublin Castle, down O’Connell Street to Parnell Square on Easter Sunday 2016; a special State Reception for 1916 Relatives; an event to highlight the significant role of women in 1916; synchronised wreath laying ceremonies on Easter Monday marking the time when the first shots were fired; an event at Liberty Hall to commemorate James Connolly. Official openings will also take place at the seven flagship commemorative projects: the GPO Interpretative Centre, Richmond Barracks, Teach an Phiarsaigh, the Tenement Museum, Kilmainham Gaol and Courthouse, the National Concert Hall and the Military Service Pensions Archive.
  1. Historical reflection: A range of history-based activities and initiatives will include a series of conferences on various elements of 1916 at our universities; the National Library of Ireland will run a major digitisation project making over 20,000 items linked to the Rising available online; the Library will also hold community collection days for privately held 1916 memorabilia; the National Archives is publishing secret files compiled by the Dublin Metropolitan Police during 1916; a commemorative avenue of trees will be planted in the Phoenix Park; An Post will issue 16 commemorative stamps which, when scanned using a Smartphone app, will link to interactive material on the Rising; and the Central Bank will also issue a series of commemorative coins.
  1. An teanga bheo – the living language: The central place of the Irish language in the ideals of the revolutionary generation will be reflected in a diverse programme of events and activities in Irish, including a digitisation programme, lectures, debates, seminars, online learning resources and arts events.
  1. Youth and imagination: A detailed education programme, to extend from primary to university level, will place children and young people at the centre of Ireland 2016. It includes ‘Proclamation for a New Generation’ which will encourage students to examine the Proclamation and to write their own version to reflect their values; an inter-generational ancestry project; ‘Proclamation Day’ will take place in all educational settings in March 2016; a teaching resource will be developed on the National Flag, and a flag will be delivered to every school in the country by the Defence Forces; a new Leaving Certificate subject – ‘Politics and Society’ – will be rolled out on a trial basis; children aged 8-17 will be consulted on the theme of ‘Imagining our Future’, which will form the basis of a ‘Children’s Day’ event, which will also commemorate the children killed during the Rising.
  1. Cultural expression: The Arts Council and the National Cultural Institutions have developed an extensive programme of arts and culture events. The Arts Council, for example, has issued an open call for large scale public arts projects; it will also stage a large scale choral event, involving a high number of choirs from across the country and there will be a national touring theatre programme; the National Concert Hall will stage a series of seven concerts over Easter Week 2016, arranged around the key themes of the Proclamation and its signatories; the Abbey Theatre will stage new productions of national and international classics and has also commissioned a series of new plays from young Irish playwrights.
  1. Community participation: Local Authorities are working with Ireland 2016 to develop commemorative events and activities in every county across the country and to encourage widespread citizen engagement; the GAA is getting involved through its clubs network; the Heritage Council is facilitating local events and regional museums are planning 1916 themed exhibitions.
  1. Global and diaspora: Ireland 2016 is inviting the global Irish family from all over the world to join us in remembering, reflecting and re-imagining. Our diplomatic missions are working with Culture Ireland to develop significant events in the US, the UK, Australia, Argentina, France and many other countries. A three-week Irish culture festival will be held in Washington; the Irish Embassy in London will stage a flagship event in one of London’s main cultural venues and a series of academic conferences examining the impact of the Rising are planned in Australia.

Learn more about Ireland 2016 and 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.


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