The Proclaimers: 100 years on, they’ve still got something to say

Proclamation Day gives students the opportunity to reflect on and reimagine what it means to be Irish in 2016

 

Proclamation Day is just around the corner. On Tuesday, March 15th, every educational institution in the country will focus on the significance of the Proclamation of the Republic that was read outside the GPO on Easter Monday 1916.

The Proclamation is one of the most recognisable symbols of the Rising – indeed, of the State itself. It acquired a particular poignancy because all seven of its signatories – Thomas Clarke, Seán Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, Patrick Pearse, Éamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett – would die by firing squad within a few short weeks of the document first public appearance.

This centenary year brings a renewed focus on the Proclamation, both as an important historical document as well as a declaration of equality drawing on the language of the American and European revolutionary movements.

In a year in which we are called upon to reflect and reimagine, as well as to remember, we find that the bold language of equal citizenship in a Republic is as relevant today as it ever was.

The Proclamation declared that:

“The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.”

Proclamation Day will be a special moment for schools, teachers and students, as well as family and friends who will share the occasion. The day will include a flag-raising at noon followed by a reading of the Proclamation. Schools will share the results of their Proclamation for a New Generation and Ancestry projects.

All around the country, schools will create their own Proclamation Day, which could include exhibitions of artwork, short theatre pieces, music performances or some other appropriate event.

Preparations for Proclamation Day have been going on for some time. Scoilnet, the Department of Education and Skills official portal for Irish education, has created a special resource for Proclamation Day with practical guidance.

Groups of pupils have been organising themselves into workshops to consider what activities or events the day in their school should contain, and what else might be done over the course of the year to mark the centenary.

Children have been busy creating their own Proclamation for a New Generation of up to 600 words, to reflect the values, ideals and hopes of the generation of 2016. Some schools have chosen to write one Proclamation for the whole school. In others, each class is creating their own Proclamation.

Proclamation Day is a great opportunity to showcase the creative talents in our schools. As well as exhibiting the results of their Proclamation for a New Generation project and Ancestry Projects, the day provides a platform to perform short pieces of drama or music performances inspired by work on the Proclamation and Ancestry project.

Many schools will invite individual pupils to make a personal presentation to the assembled gathering in their school, saying what 1916 and 2016 mean to them.

The overarching themes for the year are Remember, Reflect, Reimagine:

Remember our history and in particular the events of 1916.

Reflect on our achievements as a Republic in the intervening century.

Reimagine our future for coming generations.

Proclamation Day offers the possibility of including all three themes in a single day. It promises to be fascinating and enjoyable for pupils and teaching staff - as well, as for parents and grandparents.

Michael O’Reilly

Ireland 2016

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