Century1923 Birth of a Nation

An opportunity to reflect on sensitive and emotive events

Final year of Decade of Centenaries programme recalls first step in Ireland taking its place on world stage

As Minister with responsibility for leading the Decade of Centenaries programme, I am delighted to introduce the 2023 Irish Times Century Supplement. This is the last in the series of Century supplements and I am grateful to The Irish Times for its comprehensive, considered and creative approach to examining the significant events remembered in the Decade of Centenaries.

This engaging resource has allowed audiences of all ages to connect with the programme and learn about the events of the past in a balanced way from material that is based on historical research and primary sources. I have great pleasure in facilitating the distribution of this supplement to schools, keeping with the guidelines and principles of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations advocating accessibility for all.

In this, the final year of the Decade of Centenaries programme, we have an opportunity to reflect on the significant events that occurred in 1923 and throughout the decade. In 2023 we mark a number of Civil War centenaries which are still sensitive and emotive events, the impact and devastating legacy of which was felt for generations. This September we also mark the centenary of the entry of Ireland to the League of Nations. This was the first step of the new Irish Free State taking its place on the world stage. We also mark this year the centenary of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to WB Yeats.

Throughout the decade, my department has supported the dissemination of various resources that will allow us to look again at the events and the people that played such a vital role during one of the most pivotal and turbulent times in Irish history. My aim is to appeal to a wide audience and offer opportunities for all citizens, young and old, to reflect on the events that created the Ireland of today. The supplement can either be used to introduce the events of the past or as an opportunity to reassess these events based on new perspectives created from new research based on freely accessible archival material.


The Decade of Centenaries programme approaches our exploration of the events of the Civil War in an open, sensitive, and honest manner. The Civil War was not a singular event but a series of local incidents – including acts of great violence and cruelty. The programme reflects on the overarching and often distressing themes associated with the period. This year we also explore the economic, social and political challenges facing the new State. The importance and accessibility of primary source material in the Decade of Centenaries is reflected in the article ‘1923 in 23 objects’, which introduces a different medium to trace the events and the developments within the year.

The Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations advocated that young people need to be supported appropriately in learning about this seminal but sometimes divisive and painful period in our history. I welcome the ‘In the Classroom’ focus throughout the Century series of supplements.

In this final year I would like to sincerely thank all those who have engaged with the Decade of Centenaries programme since 2012. Audiences from all over the island of Ireland and abroad have engaged through the four strands – State Ceremonial; Creative Expression; Historical; and through the rich community-led programmes developed by the local authorities under the Community Strand with support from my department.

The success of the programme to date would not have been possible without the ambition and imagination and careful approach by our many partners who have created such quality and engaging content, guided by the principles and advice of the Expert Advisory Group, chaired by Dr Maurice Manning and Dr Martin Mansergh. The programme has allowed for our shared history, in all of its complexity, to be explored, with a focus on healing and new understandings and insights.

The Decade of Centenaries programme for 2023 is published in English and in Irish on https://www.decadeofcentenaries.com/

Catherine Martin TD is Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media