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Church of Ireland marks Easter Rising centenary

Posted on: February 8, 2016 3:23 PM
The remains of Dublin's Metropole Hotel after the Easter Rising. The Metropole was adjacent to the seat of the Rising at the General Post Office. The site is now home to a department store.
Photo Credit: National Library of Ireland
Related Categories: Anniversary, centenary, conflict, Ireland

[ACNS] The centenary of the Easter Rising – an armed insurrection by republicans seeking an end to British rule in Ireland that would eventually lead to the formation of an independent Ireland – will be marked by the Church of Ireland “with an evening of engaging presentations by leading Irish historians, with an opportunity for discussion” at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.

The Easter Uprising, the first significant anti-British movement on the island since 1798, began on Easter Monday – 24 April 1916 with the capture of key sites in Dublin and elsewhere. But, despite the proclamation of an Irish Republic, the British Army had supressed the Rising by Easter Saturday – 29 April.

In December 1918, the republican party Sinn Féin won 73 of the 105 Irish seats available at the British General Election. They following month they declared independence and convened the first meeting of the Dáil – the Irish Parliament. This led to the Irish War of Independence which continued until 1921.

The British partitioned Ireland, leaving the six counties in the north as part of the United Kingdom; while handing over the remainder to a new self-governing state, the Irish Free State, which would remain a British Dominion. It gained full independence in 1937 when it was renamed Ireland.

For most of the 20 Century there were continued struggles and armed conflict on the island as republicans fought to unite north and south. In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement brought an element of peace and stability to the island and the creation of a power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly and a number of political posts, including that of the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

The present First Minister, Arlene Foster MLA, has indicated that she will attend the event which has been organised by the Church of Ireland’s Historical Centenaries Working Group.

The event, “‘A state of chassis’ – Ordinary People in Extraordinary Circumstances in Dublin in 1916” will “provide an opportunity to consider the lives of the ‘ordinary’ people of Dublin at the time of the Easter Rising, living at a time when, as Sean O’Casey put it, many felt they were living through a confusing ‘state of chassis’,” the Church of Ireland said in a statement.

The historian and broadcaster Dr John Bowman will chair the evening which will hear from Dr Fearghal McGarry from Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Jason McElligott from Marsh’s Library, Dublin.

Dr McGarry is an historical consultant for several projects to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. He will set the Easter Rising in context and also focus on what new sources and research say about the experience of rank-and-file rebels and ordinary Dubliners during Easter Week.

His themes will include the confusion experienced by many rebels about what was happening and the rebellion’s purpose; the involvement and treatment of women in the rebellion; and the extent to which the event included a strong religious dimension – with discussion of Church of Ireland experiences, as well as the Roman Catholic ethos of the rebellion.

Dr McElligott will speak on the theme of: “Tales from The Other Side: the experience of curating a 1916 exhibition which may cause offence.” Marsh’s Library is a cultural institution which played a cameo role in the 1916 Easter Rising and it is preparing an exhibition to mark 1916 entitled “Tales from The Other Side”.

“The exhibition will focus on changes in identity in Ireland during the Irish Revolution, and the choices which individuals made, or were forced to make, about who they were and what they wanted to be,” the Church of Ireland says. “‘The Other Side’ is a deliberately ambiguous phrase that can be taken to refer to political, cultural or religious differences. It can also be applied to those who decided not to kill for their beliefs, and decided to live heroically ordinary lives.”

Admission to the event, which begins at 7.30 pm on Wednesday 17 February, is free of charge. Those wishing to attend are asked to indicate in advance by email.