Croke Park announce plans to celebrate the 1916 Rising
Major event to coincide with Allianz football finals at Croke Park on April 24th
‘Irish Volunteers’ Adam Cahill and William Northey with Kildare’s Niall Kelly and Clare’s Tony Kelly at the announcement of the 1916 commemorative event at Croke Park. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
At first it appeared that the GAA’s media launch of their plans to commemorate the centenary of the1916 Rising had, like the event itself, officially been called off. Then it was noticed that the photo opportunities were still going on down on the Croke Park pitch.
This turned out to be a rather eclectically-themed historical tableau, featuring two contemporary Kelly’s, Kildare footballer Niall and Clare hurler Tony, a couple of armed Irish Volunteers, a pair of Wolfhounds and Cúchulainn.
When the launch party arrived, the promotional video for the commemoration, which will be produced by Tyrone Productions, was played and artistic director Ruán Magan went through the details of what will take place in the stadium on 24th April, on the same day as the Division One and Two football league finals.
GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail brought a note of levity to proceedings when comparing the Rising and next month’s commemoration in one particular respect.
According to Magan the event would include symbolism – children from 32 counties reading the 1916 proclamation and 2,016 people from different walks of life parading onto the field – a fireworks display, climaxing in celebration of the tricolour.
“It will be very much about celebrating the Irish flag,” he said, “celebrating GAA history and everything that it means but being focused on and conscious of the inclusivity of the flag: Catholic, Protestant – all of us together as one.”
The launch was also attended by GAA director general Páraic Duffy – credited by the president with having spotted that the centenary fell on a Sunday when Croke Park would be in use – John Concannon, director of Ireland 2016 and Peter Finnegan from Dublin City Council, which has invited the mayors or first citizens of 61 cities in the US named after towns and cities in Ireland, to attend the Croke Park event.
The GAA president said that the contemporary association in many ways symbolised a modern republic.
“I firmly believe myself that what has been reflected in the video – and what the previous speakers have said – about the ideals of the proclamation of 1916 and the whole notion of a republic, the GAA lives that out. In anyone’s definition of a republic it’s about active citizenship and I would challenge anyone to show me an organisation that has a more active citizenship than the GAA.
“In every parish and in nearly every townland we have membership right across the island of Ireland and increasingly around the world so we do live out that idea of inclusivity and active citizenship and of loyalty to one’s own place, which is an exhortation contained in the last paragraph of the proclamation and we do cherish all of our citizens.”
He also pointed out that next week’s All-Ireland club finals will feature four clubs, from each of the provinces, all of which take their names from people and institutions associated with Irish history.
“We have the Ruairí Óg’s from Cushendall named after one of the great leaders of the 1641 rebellion and we also have the Castlebar John Mitchels, named after the great republican John Mitchel, who not alone was very active in the movement towards Irish independence but also involved in m any other movements worldwide.
Earlier he had been asked on RTÉ radio by Seán O’Rourke whether, in light of remarks Ó Fearghail had made about the GAA having had more members fighting in the first World War than in the Rising, there would be any commemoration next month of those who had fought in the first World War.
“We reflect all of that in many different events but the 24th April is very much focused on the events of Easter Week and we’re unapologetic in that. It was a seminal moment in Irish history. The GAA was very much part of all that and we will remember those events.”