A statue in Washington, D.C. of Irish patriot Robert Emmet, leader of an 1803 rebellion against the British and subsequently executed, was rededicated at a ceremony on April 27.
“The site, as we see, has been renovated to mark the centenary anniversaries. The statue is now more visible, more open to the gaze of passers-by, with a new planting of Irish Yew trees and a new wayside marker,” Irish Ambassador to the U.S. Anne Anderson said in her remarks at the event which took place not far from the Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue and S Street, in a park which is home to the refurbished statue, which was the first ever created in Emmet’s honor.
“Among those who will pass by, I have no doubt that Irish Americans will pause here, and reflect, and acknowledge Robert Emmet’s place in the pantheon of Irish heroes.”
According to the Irish Embassy, the Emmet statue was commissioned by the Smithsonian, funded by a group of Irish Americans, completed in 1916 by Irish sculptor Jerome Connor, and installed in the Smithsonian’s U.S. National Museum. President Woodrow Wilson spoke at the dedication ceremony, which was attended by many dignitaries.
On the 50th anniversary of these events, in April 1966, the Smithsonian lent the Emmet statue to a small National Park Service site near the Embassy of Ireland and it was rededicated. The then-Speaker of the House of Representatives, John McCormack, presided over the ceremony, and remarks were made by, among others, the Secretary of the Smithsonian and the ambassador of Ireland. President Lyndon Johnson conveyed his admiration for Emmet in a message that was read at the event.
To mark the concurrent 100 year anniversaries of the National Park Service, Ireland’s Easter Rising, and the Emmet statue, the National Park Service is currently undertaking a major refurbishment of the park site on which the statue stands. The project encompasses re-landscaping the entire site and installing a wayside information marker.
The National Park Service is working in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution, the Irish American Unity Conference and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, all of which have contributed resources to the project.
New York Congressman Joe Crowley, who has a picture of Emmet in his office, is leading a congressional effort to have the small park renamed in Emmet’s honor.