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1916 in 1966: Commemorating the Easter Rising

1916 in 1966: Commemorating the Easter Rising

Mary E. Daly
Margaret O’Callaghan
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Royal Irish Academy
Pages: 356
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  • Book Info
    1916 in 1966: Commemorating the Easter Rising
    Book Description:

    This book examines the Irish government’s reinvention of Easter 1916 through the official golden jubilee celebrations in 1966. Unofficial commemorations in Northern Ireland are also examined. Also analyzes the golden jubilee of the Rising from a political perspective and from the perspectives of drama, performance, youth culture and history.

    eISBN: 978-1-908996-47-3
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[v])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vi]-[vii])
  3. Introduction Irish Modernity and ‘The Patriot Dead’ in 1966
    (pp. 1-17)
    Mary E. Daly and Margaret O’Callaghan

    This collection of essays looks at the golden jubilee in 1966 of the Easter Rising of 1916. That commemoration is indelibly imprinted on the minds of all who lived through it, but is virtually unknown to those born later in the last century. They, however, have heard it evoked to buttress one ideological position or another on 1916 itself, on the Irish nationalist tradition, on ‘the North’; by historians, journalists, commentators. Much of the battle for control of the representation of the history of modern Ireland and its profound connection with debates about ‘the North’ is incomprehensible if the commemoration...

  4. 1. ‘Less a Commemoration of the Actual Achievements and more a Commemoration of the Hopes of the Men of 1916’
    (pp. 18-86)
    Mary E. Daly

    In 1966 Ireland celebrated the golden jubilee of the 1916 Easter Rising. The official programme of events was concentrated during Easter week, beginning on Easter Sunday, 10 April, and concluding on the following Sunday with a special children’s day. Easter Sunday in Dublin began with a special Mass at the Pro-Cathedral, followed by a parade past the GPO, the official opening of Kilmainham Jail (where the 1916 leaders were held, tried and executed) as a museum, and a state reception. On Easter Monday—the day when the Rising began—all the major religious communities held special religious ceremonies, and President...

  5. 2. ‘From Casement Park to Toomebridge’ The Commemoration of the Easter Rising in Northern Ireland in 1966
    (pp. 87-148)
    Margaret O’Callaghan

    Acts of unionist political and cultural commemoration were inscribed in the public and private spaces of Northern Ireland from its foundation. Those happenings or past events that were highlighted, revisited and represented through acts of celebration or commemoration were those aspects of an Irish unionist and Protestant past that had the plasticity and capacity to be re-imagined in a way that would serve twentieth-century political purposes, providing a genealogy for the newly constructed Northern Ireland.³ The annual Orange Order walks or marches of 12 July, ‘remembering’ and giving thanks for the victory of William of Orange at the Boyne in...

  6. 3. ‘I am the narrator over-and-above…the caller up of the dead’: Pageant and drama in 1966
    (pp. 149-173)
    Roisín Higgins

    Ferdia MacAnna, writing of his part in the 1916 commemorative pageant at Croke Park in 1966, which was scripted and directed by his father Tomás, recalled the issue of payment for boys who played extras for the crowd scenes, ‘… we made representations to the management… At one stage there was talk of a strike: there would be no new nation at the end of the show, we warned, unless financial terms were agreed’. Payment for the nation’s youth came in the form of a limited-edition souvenir ten-shilling piece, which bore the image of P.H. Pearse. Mac Anna held onto...

  7. 4. More than a Revival of Memories? 1960s Youth and the 1916 Rising
    (pp. 174-198)
    Carole Holohan

    The fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 Rising provided a moment for national stocktaking, for the tallying of the successes, and more often failures, of the nation. The rapid economic development experienced by the Republic during the1960s, and its accompanying social and cultural changes, resulted in an identity crisis, as citizens and government grappled with traditional and ‘modern’ notions of themselves. While a new sense of confidence was evident in many circles from the time of the publication of T.K. Whitaker’sEconomic Developmentand its resultant economic programmes, this confidence was tempered by the anxiety generated by those who feared the...

  8. 5. Commemorating the Rising, 1922–65: ‘A Figurative Scramble for the Bones of the Patriot Dead’?
    (pp. 199-219)
    Diarmaid Ferriter

    How to commemorate the 1916 Easter Rising in the aftermath of the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 was a question that confronted both government and opposition. It frequently led to political disagreement, cantankerous debate and uncertainty. For many, rather than being a question of solemn remembrance, the issue of commemorating the Rising provided an opportunity to seek to create political capital out of the contested republican legacy and to emphasise the divisions that existed within the Irish body politic.

    Unsurprisingly, there were a variety of different views as to what should and should not be done and...

  9. 6. Forget Politics! Theorising the Political Dynamics of Commemoration and Conflict
    (pp. 220-240)
    Rebecca Lynn Graff-McRae

    In this chapter, I aim to set out an introduction to a critical analysis of the politics of commemoration. Here I emphasise the way in which commemoration is intrinsically based on the construction and reproduction of oppositions—between public/private, inside/outside, us/them, past/present, memory/forgetting, unity/division. As such, it is intricately implicated in conflict, antagonism, violence and contestation. At the discursive level, commemoration involves the legitimation of one form of conflict over others, and re-inscribes axes of division within the social–political arena. At the same time, as illustrated by the conflicting interpretations of what ‘the politics of memory’ means and how...

  10. 7. Pragmatism Versus Unity: The Stormont Government and the 1966 Easter Commemoration
    (pp. 241-274)
    Catherine O’Donnell

    The commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 Rising in Northern Ireland provided a fresh challenge for Ulster unionism. For Ulster unionism, the 1960s were to a large extent defined by division,¹ and it is within this context of division that the response of the Stormont government to the commemoration is to be understood. In a speech delivered at a Twelfth of July demonstration in Ballymena in 1965, the Northern Ireland prime minister, Terence O’Neill, called on the Orange Order to give its support to what he termed ‘positive Protestantism’.² He argued that ‘negative Protestantism’ continued to succeed in...

  11. 8. Sites Of Memory And Memorial
    (pp. 275-306)
    Roisín Higgins

    In 1959 when submitting his design for the sculptural centrepiece of the Garden of Remembrance, Oisín Kelly was concerned about the ‘general difficulty of expressing the heroic in our time’. He intended in his design to create a new nationalist iconography. ‘There is no tradition on which to build’, he wrote, ‘except harps and shamrocks and Lady Lavery and that bloody stone volunteer shooting splendidly into Bearna Baogail’.¹ The final image evoked by Kelly encapsulated a sense in which nationalist imagery projected itself into a ‘violent gap’ or void, replete with an unknown or unspecified danger. In Irish symbolism, the...

  12. 9. Staging 1916 in 1966: Pastiche, Parody and Problems of Representation
    (pp. 307-326)
    Anthony Roche

    The decision to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1916 Rising by staging a pageant in Croke Park in 1966 was fraught with representational problems, in both theatrical and political terms. Tomás MacAnna of the Abbey theatre approached the Department of Defence and the Fianna Fáil government to suggest the pageant and supplied both script and direction. The minutes of the time are concerned mainly with the logistics of the operation: how many costumes will be required, whether certain actors will be available, etc. The intent is clearly stated:

    The pageant would re-enact the events of Easter Week 1916, taking...

  13. 10. Easter Week and the Historians
    (pp. 327-347)
    Michael Laffan

    It was a time for praise. In April 1966, shortly before the official fiftieth anniversary commemorations for the 1916 Rising, Owen Dudley Edwards applauded some recent writings by Irish historians. He declared that

    whatever may be the ultimate verdict on the good taste and appropriateness of the general proceedings for the Golden Jubilee of the Rising, it must be stated that the historical publications on the event which have so far appeared this year could hardly be bettered.¹

    By then, a sustained neglect of early-twentieth-century Irish history was coming to an end. Historians and others who wrote about the country’s...

    (pp. 347-358)
  15. Acknowledgements
    (pp. 359-362)
    Mary E. Daly and Margaret O’Callaghan