Ceremonies mark 100th anniversary of the Irish Volunteers

President Michael D Higgins pays tribute to self-sacrifice of those who signed up

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina viewing the military archives with Cmdt Padraic Kennedy after a State ceremony to mark the centenary of the founding of the Irish Volunteers, Óglaigh na hÉireann, in the Garden of Remembrance. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina viewing the military archives with Cmdt Padraic Kennedy after a State ceremony to mark the centenary of the founding of the Irish Volunteers, Óglaigh na hÉireann, in the Garden of Remembrance. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Sun, Nov 24, 2013, 14:46

The Irish Volunteers which were founded 100 years looked to an “Irishness beyond their own welfare”, President Michael D Higgins has said.

At the State ceremony to mark the centerary of the founding of the Irish Volunteers, President Higgins said the the greatest moments in Irish history were those who looked to the future and were motivated “by a sense of what might be possible”.

The Irish Volunteers were founded on November 25th, 1913, in the large hall of the Rotundo Rink as a direct nationalist equivalent of the Ulster Volunteers. Some 7,000 people are reported to have turned out for the first meeting.

President Higgins described those who took part as an “army drawn from people who were motivated to rise and to vindicate the unfulfilled hopes and aspirations for freedom, of the previous generations, men and women anxious to live up to their responsibilities as they saw them towards future generations”.

The President reflected on how the world has changed in the century since the foundation of the Irish Volunteers. Wounds arising from both the national struggle and the civil war had healed and the time had come “to endorse, in imagination and sympathy, the narrative of the other”.

Some 300 members of the defence forces from all brigades and formations took part in this morning’s service at the Garden of Remembrance on the site where where the first meeting of the volunteers happened.

Today’s ceremony is part of a decade of commemoration from the Dublin Lockout to the end of the civil war.

Music was provided by the Band of the 1st Brigade, the Army No 1 Band and the Air Corps Pipe Band.

Among those who attended the event were the Taoiseach, the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter, the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan and the Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Oisín Quinn.

The surviving relatives of those involved in the foundation of the Irish Volunteers and who subsequently found themselves on opposite sides of the civil war were also present including Michael McDowell, the grandson of the founder of the Irish Volunteers Eoin MacNeill, former Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave, Éamon Ó Cuív, the grandson of Éamon de Valera, and Risteard Mulcahy, the son of General Richard Mulcahy. Also present were relatives of The O’Rahilly, another founder of The Irish Volunteers. He died during the Easter Rising.

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