Call to remember 28 children who died in Rising

 

A HISTORIAN has called for the 28 children who died during the 1916 Rising to be remembered in the 2016 commemoration.

NUI Maynooth lecturer Dr Anne Matthews was speaking at the Parnell Summer School in Avondale, Co Wicklow, on a panel about Equality and the Irish Revolution.

Of more than 250 civilians killed during Easter Week 1916, 28 children aged between two and 16 were killed by gunfire, she said.

She said they had not been commemorated because of the social class.

The children “who lived and died in the city” were from “working-class backgrounds” and “are still not considered worthy of a commemorative plaque.”

The children and their mothers have “remained invisible because they do not fit comfortably in the romantic view of 1916”, she said. “I personally do not think it is unpatriotic to also want to remember these women and their children.”

She suggested they could be remembered in the 2016 centenary in a new spirit of maturity.

Examples of the stories uncovered by Dr Matthews include a two-year-old child child shot in the head on Church Street, Dublin.

She juxtaposes these mothers with the idea of the martyr mothers of 1916, typified by Pádraig Pearse’s mother.

After 1916, a romantic view emerged creating the “powerful iconography of the great Irish mothers and widows who gave their sons and husbands for Ireland”.

The romantic view was instigated by a fundraising body (the National Aid Association and Volunteers Dependants Fund)established to provide financial support to the men who fought in 1916, she said.

This re-created the rebellion as “a sacred and glorious event” where men and women “of the respectable classes” fought and died, she said.

The working-class men of the Irish Citizen army were “pushed aside” by the romanticised version of 1916.

The working-class of Dublin became “scapegoats” and propaganda labelled them “traitors”, singling out Dublin men who joined the British army, she said

She also wanted the memory of female relatives of Irish soldiers in the British army to be corrected.

The propaganda depicted these wives and mothers as “money grabbing” who “lived off the largesse” of the British army allowance.

Almost 100 years after the Rising, there “is still a resounding silence about the impact the rebellion had on the lives of men, women and children who for six days lived within a heartbeat of death”.