Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Happy Proclamation Day!

As part of the commemorative events for the one hundredth anniversary of the 1916 Rising today has been declared Proclamation Day or Lá Fhoróga na SaoirseThe delivery, by the Defence Forces, of the Irish flag and a copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic to all national schools in the country this year is a tangible and potent reminder of the indelible link between the Easter Rising and the Irish tricolour. Today the national flag is being hoisted on flagpoles at schools and institutions around the country and the Proclamation is being recited. 

In spite of all the furore and divided opinion about the way the Centenary of the Rising is being celebrated, I believe this simple initiative is laudable and means that younger generations will understand the historical context and broader implications of the 1916 insurrection. It is refreshing that we are able to move beyond the taciturnity that earlier generations of Irish people upheld around Irish patriotism and the fight for freedom, mainly for fear of being labelled a sympathiser of violent Republicanism. 

Earlier this morning I attended a special ceremony at my son's school to mark the occasion and was moved to hear the children of sixth class reciting Patrick Pearse's poems, 'The Wayfarer', 'The Mother' and reading the Proclamation in Irish. They also sang Irish songs such as 'Oro se do breath bhaile' and Thomas Davis' 'A Nation Once Again' and the school hall was decked with projects about the key figures in the Rising.

Lets hope the values of cherishing equally all Irish women and Irish men, inscribed in the Proclamation, will be fully realised and marginalised groups such as Travellers won't have to endure continued social and legislative exclusion. 

To read the full programme of national events marking the Centenary click here
The Wayfarer
The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree,
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun,
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;
Or children with bare feet upon the sands
Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets
Of little towns in Connacht,
Things young and happy.
And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way
Patrick Pearse

The Mother
I do not grudge them: Lord, I do not grudge
My two strong sons that I have seen go out
To break their strength and die, they and a few,
In bloody protest for a glorious thing,
They shall be spoken of among their people,
The generations shall remember them,
And call them blessed;
But I will speak their names to my own heart
In the long nights;
The little names that were familiar once
Round my dead hearth.
Lord, thou art hard on mothers:
We suffer in their coming and their going;
And tho' I grudge them not, I weary, weary
Of the long sorrow - And yet I have my joy:
My sons were faithful, and they fought.
Patrick Pearse 

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