Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Our Easter Rising Centenary - The Day Our Nation Stood Proud

One of the many reasons we travel so often with our children is to broaden their little horizons. If you've been following our travels for any time you'll know for each city or town we visit, we actively seek out cultural events, heritage museums or sites of historical importance to take in during our stay. Children are like sponges and really do soak up information better than we adults ever do, well personally speaking anyway! We've instilled a love of history in our children, Irish military history more so than any other as I met my husband nearly 20 years ago while we were both serving in the FCA in McKee Barracks in Dublin. Irish military history is quite literally in their blood. As with every other Irish man, woman and child both on our little island and flung further afield, this past weekend of the Easter Rising Centenary was one of the greatest in our rich history. 

If you've read my post from our tour around Cork retracing Michael Collins' final steps HERE you'll know that our son Seamus (7) idolises him and our daughters also have a keen interest in all things Easter Rising and Civil War related. So it goes without saying that the Easter Rising commemorations were greatly anticipated in our house.

Cillian, our 4 year old had to dress as a 1916 boy for St. Patrick's Day
as that was the theme of the parade here in Athy. He wanted to wear his outfit for the commemorations, Séamus also wanted to dress up for the occasion so we sourced him an old communion suit to wear complete with flat cap.

Early Sunday morning we headed to Dublin for the formal Government led commemoration, consisting of the reading of the Proclamation at the GPO, the President laying a wreath on behalf of the people of Ireland followed by the Defence Forces and State Emergency Services parade. I have to say they got the balance just right, it was a commemoration not a celebration. While it was a sombre occasion, members of the defence forces were fantastic waving and saying hello to the thousands of children that lined the parade route. 

Bottom Left with members of The Great War Society & Bottom Right with firm family friends Keith Donnelly & Darren McMahon, dressed in (British) Royal Dublin Fusiliers uniform -
LOOK at the adoration in Séamus' eyes!

Our little ones were over the moon to get a wave from the Ranger Wing as they drove past in full combat gear. Luckily the rain held off and only began to fall as the massed band of the Defence Forces marched by signaling the end of the parade. If you were watching my Snapchat (stonetravel) you would have seen some behind the scenes views back in McKee Barracks where the military vehicles were gathered post parade.

Representin' with the women representing the invaluable work of Irish women in the Rising
the representation of these invaluable members in the Rising effort was on point throughout
Check @womenof1916 for more!

Monday morning saw us back on the M7 Dublin bound as we couldn't get a family hotel room in Dublin City on Sunday night for love nor money. Our two lads donned their outfits once again to immerse themselves in all things 1916.

Toasting the 1916 Centenary with Dad

RTÈ Reflecting the Rising in partnership with Ireland 2016 managed to pull off one of the best events we have had the pleasure of attending. It was the largest historical and cultural event that has ever been held in Ireland. There was so much to choose from that I only wished it was on for a week to give us a chance to attend more. Over 500 free talks, exhibitions and performances billed for just one day. Consisting of 200 venues, 6 outdoor stages and 8 family zones across the city centre, there was something for everyone. I couldn't commemorate our weekend without mentioning the stellar work of digital maestro and all 'round good egg Darragh Doyle. Even Sue commented to say she was following Darragh's updates and our Snapchat from her sick bed and truly felt part of the celebrations. If you were following along with Darragh's updates you can tweet him HERE to let him know just as we have, ditto @Ireland2016 for their incredible efforts. 

We had a packed, fun filled day in both Smithfield and on O'Connell Street, we didn't even have time to get over to St.Stephen's Green or Merrion Square. I can only hope that this becomes a yearly event, even if it's not on as grand a scale as the Centenary. The incredibly fitting close to the celebrations was broadcast on RTE on Sunday evening in their concert Centenary (you can watch it back HERE)- we're talking Braveheart levels of rousing pride in our nation watching those 90 minutes. When we get it right, we get it very, very right. 

Watch below as our Proclamation, first read out by Patrick Pearse at the door to the GPO on that fateful day is recited by Irish people the world over. It's one of the most stirring, emotive pieces of footage we've ever seen:

As Sue commented, wouldn't it be incredible if we sold the DVD of Centenary with all profits going to the Irish charities that seek to further the ideals of our 1916 Proclamation? Thinking specifically of Focus Ireland, Women's Aid and the ISPCC. Now that really would be something. 

Tell us, did you join in the celebrations? Or maybe you caught up online if you're further afield? Have you ever been prouder to be Irish? 

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