One hundred years ago this weekend—minus one month thanks to liturgical calendar hijinks—a ragtag army of Irish volunteers kicked off what would later be named the “Easter Rising,” jumpstarting Ireland’s War of Independence and eventually leading to the founding of the modern Republic of Ireland. That’s a lot of history distilled, but you can fill in the gaps yourself at one of the many commemorative exhibits and events taking place all over the city—and the country—in recognition of this important milestone in a young nation’s history.
There’s a full program of events big and small, public and private over the weekend but most of Dublin’s celebrations will be in and around Dublin’s City Centre from Saturday through Monday. Here are the highlights:
- On Saturday, there will be a wreath-laying and memorial service for all those who died during the Rising at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance.
- The celebration on Sunday kicks off with the Easter Sunday Commemoration Ceremony and Parade. The Irish Proclamation—”Irishmen and Irishwomen, in the name of God and the dead generations…”—will be read from the front steps of the General Post Office just as it was one hundred years ago by Patrick Pearse. The President of Ireland will lay a wreath, and a minute of silence will be observed before the parade begins through the city. Check the parade route and find a viewing place early, as the streets of Dublin are sure to be crowded.
- On Monday, officials will recognize the importance of several iconic Rising sites at the Easter Monday Synchronized Wreath-Laying Ceremonies. Government ministers will lay two wreaths at Boland’s Mills, Jacobs Factory, Dublin Castle, Four Courts, Royal College of Surgeons, Moore Street, and St. James’ Hospital at exactly 1:15 p.m.—the time the first shots were heard on Easter Monday 1916.
Beyond Easter Weekend
The recognitions and celebrations won’t stop on Monday night. Of special note are the new museum openings in Dublin recognizing the events of 1916. The General Post Office—the rebels’ home base during the Rising—will be opening their new exhibit, GPO Witness History, on March 29.
Richmond Barracks on the west side of town will also be opening a new interactive museum later in the spring. After the surrender, these barracks were used as a makeshift prison for more than 3,000 rebels—men and women. Also opening to the public with the museum will be the very interesting—and very crowded—Goldenbridge Cemetery nearby.
After being held in Richmond Barracks, the leaders of the Rising were court martialed and taken to Kilmainham Gaol for execution. Over the course of a week, fourteen rebel leaders were executed by firing squad in the prison yard. To commemorate the 1916 Centenary, the Kilmainham Gaol museum will be opening a newly renovated and expanded exhibit, including the old courthouse next door.
Wherever you are, and however you celebrate this spring weekend, take a moment to think about the Irish as they observe the bittersweet, young memories of a painful war that brought them their long-awaited independence.