Ireland 1916 Commemorations
The Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme included an invitation to all the people on the island of Ireland and to our diaspora and friends around the world to join in the commemorations by remembering the past, reflecting on the achievements of the last century and imagining the future together.
This invitation was extended worldwide throughout 2016 by the Department and Ireland’s Embassy/Consulate network, working closely with Culture Ireland, local Irish communities and partner institutions, through the Centenary Programme’s Global and Diaspora strand.
Over 700 events took place in some 156 cities and 60 countries around the world to mark the events of 1916 and to celebrate the journey of Irish history and culture in the century since. Missions partnered with over 125 organisations in support of these events.
Specific highlights included:
“1916 Portraits and Lives”
With support from the Department, the Royal Irish Academy’s “1916 Portraits and Lives” exhibition, which consists of prints by artist David Rooney accompanying biographical pieces on 42 individuals connected with the Rising, were displayed in Ireland’s Embassy/Consulate network in 10 cities in nine countries. The Department also supported the cost of making the original book version of “Portraits and Lives” available as a free e-book ‘gift from Ireland to the World’ for download from St. Patrick’s Day through to the Rising’s centenary on 24th / 25th April 2016. The e-book was downloaded over 73,000 times from over 50 countries.
“Rising to Reconciliation”
On 10 April 2016, Minister Flanagan welcomed guests who have contributed to peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland, including US Senator George Mitchell, to a special event staged by the Department in partnership with Poetry Ireland at the Abbey Theatre on the 18th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Through poetry, music, drama and imagery, “Rising to Reconciliation” charted the path from the Easter Rising of 1916 to the 1998 Agreement and the advancement of reconciliation on the island of Ireland over the last century. The event included live readings and music by some of the island’s finest and most respected artists such as Cathy Belton, Paul Brady, Neil Martin, Eleanor Methven, Stuart Graham, Andrew Scott and was MC’d by broadcaster Olivia O’Leary.
Commemoration through the Arts
The Global and Diaspora Programme’s music, theatre, poetry, dance and visual arts elements were all strongly supported by Ireland’s Embassy/Consulate network and highlighted a century of Irish history and culture to tens of thousands of people around the world. These included more than 80 concerts and musical events across 44 cities worldwide, over 20 different plays in 40+ locations and more than 100 screenings of films such as “A Terrible Beauty” and “Mise Éire”.
Ireland 100: Celebrating a Century of Irish Culture, which took place at the John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. from 17 May to 5 June 2016, was the centrepiece of the 1916 centenary programme in the USA. The festival featured more than 120 performances and was attended by over 66,000 people. It showcased some of Ireland’s most renowned artists and works, including the Abbey Theatre’s modern staging of The Plough and the Stars. The opening night performance was attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. and U.S. Vice President Joe Biden as well as many notable Irish and U.S. dignitaries.
President Higgins attended the Imagining Ireland concert held in the Royal Festival Hall in London on 29 April. The concert, produced by the National Concert Hall in association with Serious Music in London, celebrated Ireland’s musical journey over the last 100 years and the strong musical links between Ireland and Britain. The concert was supported by Culture Ireland and by Embassy London as part of the Ireland 2016 Global and Diaspora programme.
With input from the Ireland 2016 Office and support from Ireland’s National Cultural Institutions, the Department created an “Ireland Rising” exhibition which focused on the 1916 Easter Rising’s international dimensions, the political, social and cultural forces that shaped this period and the global context that influenced the Rising.
The “Ireland Rising” exhibition was displayed in over 20 locations around the world, in many cases accompanied by film screenings or academic events such as a 1916 commemorative lecture by Dr. Martin Mansergh in Singapore and a seminar in Beijing on the Easter Rising organised by the Beijing Foreign Studies University and the Irish Studies Network in conjunction with the Embassy of Ireland.
Screenings of “1916: The Irish Rebellion” Documentary
An initiative by the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame and narrated by Liam Neeson, “1916: The Irish Rebellion” details the events of Easter 1916 in Ireland in their historical, political and cultural context through a combination of rarely-seen archival footage, new segments filmed on location worldwide and interviews with leading international experts.
A gala Irish screening of the documentary in the National Concert Hall in Dublin on 16 March was shown live at diaspora screenings organised by Ireland’s Embassy/Consulate network in Paris, London, Madrid, Belgrade, Budapest, A Coruna University in Spain and to members of the Irish Defence Forces on peacekeeping missions in Lebanon and the Golan Heights. Ireland’s Embassies and Consulates also arranged for subsequent screenings in over 80 different cities across 25 countries.
Academic Commemorative Events
More than 120 academic lectures, conferences, seminars and talks on the 1916 Rising took place over 70 cities and 57 universities worldwide throughout 2016.
Often connecting the Irish historical commemorations with the host location of these events, lectures and conferences spanned a variety of topics such as Roger Casement’s humanitarian legacy and time in Nigeria, the connections between Argentina and Ireland during the revolutionary period, Irish contributions to Western Australia, German involvement in the Rising and Irish-American nationalism within the context of the Rising.