Last State ceremony for 1916 Rising leaders before centenary

Ministers whisked to Arbour Hill directly from Government Buildings for event

President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny were amongst the dignitaries who attended the annual 1916 Rising Commemoration in Arbour Hill. Ciarán D'Arcy reports.


Taoiseach Enda Kenny and President Michael D Higgins were present at Arbour Hill cemetery on Wednesday for the last State commemoration of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising ahead of next year’s centenary celebrations.

Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting was brought forward to accommodate the 10am start time for the remembrance service, and Ministers were whisked to the Church of the Sacred Heart at Arbour Hill in a bus directly from Government Buildings to witness the ceremony.

This year’s event drew a plethora of high-profile attendees including Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan, Dublin Lord Mayor Christy Burke, opposition leaders Michéal Martin and Gerry Adams and senior members of the military.

They were accompanied by 170 Defence Forces personnel who marched in procession from Collins Barracks across the road to greet the assembled dignitaries.

Delivering the homily during Mass, Church of Ireland Bishop the Most Rev Pat Storey expressed thanks for the invitation to her, a Protestant woman from Northern Ireland, to address the crowd on such an important occasion.

‘Smell of death’

Alluding to her childhood growing up in the 1970s during the Troubles, she recalled “waking up to the smell of death” every morning, and encouraged people from all faith backgrounds to contribute to a peaceful and prosperous future on the island.

“The time for tearing down in our country is virtually finished, and the time for mending has only just begun,” said the Meath and Kildare bishop, adding that just as every religion had contributed to Ireland’s past, “this is the time for making the future and I believe Churches of every denomination must contribute to that”.

She continued: “So, are you in or are you out? Are you in the business of mending?.. I cannot let death or commemoration have the last word.”

Musical performances

Congregants were also treated to musical performances from 2014 All-Island School Choir Competition winners Moate Community School Choir from Westmeath, with solo performances from Conor Fagan, Lauren Watson, Colin Doyle and Roisín, Thérese and Nicholas Hamm.

The wreath-laying ceremony in the adjacent graveyard also heard contributions from Catholic, Church of Ireland, Methodist, Russian Orthodox and Jewish religious representatives, along with an Arabic oration from Muslim cleric Sheikh Mohamed Ibrahim.

Concluding proceedings on a wet and windy morning, the President and the Taoiseach laid a wreath at the graveside of the leaders of the 1916 Rising who were executed and buried 99 years ago, and observed a minute’s silence in their memory.