The Irish government’s announcement last night of its official commemoration program for the 1916 Rising included a range of major American and larger diaspora events.
Speaking at Collins Barracks in Dublin, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny said:
“This is a year for all of the Irish people,” he declared, adding “It is our moment – a moment for reflection, for remembrance, for renewal.”
The following are the events and initiatives planned, to date, in the United States:
- From May 16 to June 5, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., in partnership with the Embassy of Ireland, will host a three-week festival of Irish arts and culture called Celebrating a Century of Irish Arts and Culture. The festival will be the centerpiece of Ireland 2016 commemorations and celebrations in the United States and will showcase a spectrum of the cultural heritage of the island of Ireland, including some of the best of Irish contemporary musicians, dancers and theater companies.
- On March 3, a gala premiere screening of the Notre Dame-produced documentary on 1916 will take place in the University of Notre Dame at South Bend, IN with additional screenings in Chicago and Atlanta.
- In New York, Glucksman Ireland House at New York University will present a series of public events commencing in autumn 2015 including music, film, poetry, and prose, culminating in a major academic conference in April 2016, exploring the relationship between America and 1916.
- On Sunday, April 24, the headquarters of the American Irish Historical Society in New York will be the focus of a major civic commemorative event. The Society will also host a series of exhibitions featuring holdings from their collections of Irish and Irish-American historical papers and artifacts from the 1916 period.
- The Ancient Order of Hibernians' (AOH) 1916 commemorations will also focus on New York over the weekend of April 22 to 24. A significant civic event is also being planned, involving a solemn commemorative moment and a reading of the Proclamation, also to take place on April 23.
- Glór na nGael and the Consulate General in Boston will hold a conference from June 17-19 bringing together Irish language groups from across the United States to explore the role of the Irish language and Irish culture in the 1916 Rising and in the hundred years since.
There will also be a major Diaspora-focused Gala Event held in Dublin and beamed by satellite link live to Irish embassies and consulates around the world, which in turn will organize special events for local diaspora groups. The centerpiece of the event will be the world premiere of the Notre Dame-produced documentary "Easter 1916."
Commemorative events, festivals, conferences and exhibitions are also planned for the UK, France, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and Canada.
The official Ireland 2016 website, which includes information on the full range of commemoration events and initiatives both in Ireland and abroad, notes that “the centenary of the 1916 Rising will have particular resonance in the United States of America. Five of the seven signatories to the Proclamation of Independence spent periods of time in the U.S. that influenced their thinking and actions; the U.S. is the only foreign country specifically mentioned in the Proclamation; it has the greatest concentration of our Diaspora and contemporary ties are of extraordinary depth and breadth.”
Indeed, in the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, signed by Thomas J. Clarke, Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, Padraig Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett, the second paragraph reads:
“Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she [Ireland] now seizes that moment, and supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.”
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