Prayers, wreath-laying and flypast for Rising anniversary

 

AN ESTIMATED 2,000 people gathered outside Dublin’s GPO yesterday to commemorate the 93rd anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

President Mary McAleese, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, Minister for Defence Willie O’Dea and Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Eibhlin Byrne were among the participants in the event.

Two large video screens, on either side of the GPO, relayed the ceremony, which included an Army pipers’ lament and Air Corps fly past. Many of those present waited to observe the dignitaries depart, following a post-ceremony reception, hosted by Mr O’Dea, in the GPO.

The only political figure to receive a round of applause on arrival was Mrs McAleese.

As the ceremony got under way at noon, the national flag was lowered and Army chaplain Msgr Eoin Thynne read a prayer of remembrance.

“We recall with affection all who gave their lives for the cause of peace during the struggle for independence,” he said.

“Guide our nation in the way of justice and truth, and establish among us that peace which is the fruit of righteousness.”

Msgr Thynne said that as people came to pray for those who had suffered and died for freedom, they knew that one day they would join them among the dead generations. “May the hope and vision that were the inspiration of those we remember today, encourage us to look forward with optimism to the future and build a nation without violence, a nation that loves life and grows in justice and solidarity.”

As the 1916 Proclamation was read by Naval officer Lieut Erika Downing, the nearby Luas trams made their way up and down Abbey Street, providing a contemporary backdrop.

At the Taoiseach’s invitation, President McAleese laid a wreath to commemorate the dead of 1916. A minute’s silence was observed.

The Last Post was sounded, and the national flag was restored to full mast before the playing of the National Anthem.

Among the relatives of the 1916 participants present was American-born Denisa Casement who now works in Dublin as head of fundraising with Merchants Quay Ireland. Her grandfather, Robert Casement, was Roger Casement’s second cousin.

“My reaction to the ceremony was one of pride,” she said.

“It was a solemn but joyful experience. What it took to attain Ireland’s sovereignty means a lot to me.”

Ms Casement has visited Banna Strand in Kerry, location of Roger Casement’s ill-fated arrival to Ireland in 1916.

Speaking to journalists after the ceremony, Mr O’Dea said that the 1916 Rising resonated very much with the Irish people today.

“I think this is the biggest turnout since we revived the ceremony,” he added.

“People are still, obviously, very interested in the sacrifice made by the men who came into the GPO and struck the first blow which resulted, ultimately, in the foundation of the Irish State.”

He said that the Government was already planning for the 100th anniversary.

Also present were former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, Ceann Comhairle John O’Donoghue, Government Chief Whip Pat Carey, Ministers of State Michael Finneran, Seán Haughey, Trevor Sargent and Dick Roche, Fine Gael TD Frances Fitzgerald and Labour TD Joe Costello.

There, too, were the Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lieut Gen Dermot Earley and Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy.