The 100th anniversary of the “1916 Easter Rising” in Dublin, a defining moment in the struggle for Irish independence, will provide a wide range of cultural events around the world, including Georgia, enabling the Irish and Hibernophiles to celebrate their national pride.
The uprising began on Easter Monday 1916 with the reading of the proclamation, Poblacht na h-Eireann, by the poet and political activist Pádraig Pearse. After days of fighting on Dublin city streets, there were approximately 300 civilians casualties and the executions of 16 rebel leaders.
Due to an initiative of the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, a widely acclaimed documentary providing an historical overview that explores implications of the revolt across the globe has been completed for the centennial celebration.
Irish poet W.B. Yeats famously wrote in his poem 1916 Easter, “All changed utterly, a terrible beauty is born,” of the Rising, a military disaster at the time, but one that is credited for eventually sparking interest in republicanism and leading to an independent Ireland.
Christopher Fox, director of the institute, told Global Atlanta in an interview from Notre Dame, Ind., that the documentary, 1916 the Irish Rebellion, would never have been produced without the financial support of the late president and chief operating officer of the Coca-Cola Co., Donald Keogh.
He also cited the support of Liam Neeson, the actor from Northern Ireland who rose to prominence when he starred in the title role of Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Oscar winning Schindler’s List. Mr. Neeson is responsible for the documentary’s off-stage commentary.
Professor Briona Nic Dhiarmada chair of the Irish Language and Literature Department at Notre Dame, credits Ken Burns’ documentary on the Civil War in the United States for inspiring the in-depth account of the Easter Rising at “the highest production values.”
Prof. Dhiarmada combed archives in 60 countries and interviewed dozens of historians about the rebellion and its implications resulting in the documentary, which was first shown in Ireland in February, drawing widespread praise.
“We tell the story in a new way, in an effort to pull back the lens” she said in a radio interview, placing the event as part of European and world history generally.
She still seems amazed that the New York Times covered the rebellion on its front pages for 14 days, pushing news of World War I into the inside pages.
Traditionally the rebellion has been recounted with the relatively narrow focus of a six-day event mounted by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland.
The ambitions of the documentary, however, are far greater, Prof. Dhiarmada says, having placed it in the context of the Age of Empire, World War I, the rise of anti-imperialism, the women’s rights movement and the spread of socialism internationally.
Among the documentaries revelations are the role played by actively engaged Irish-Americans who went so far as to providing the rebels with arms and munitions from Germany.
James Flannery, the Winship professor emeritus of the arts and humanities at Emory University in Atlanta, has changed the topic this year for the annual Georgia high school essay contest of St. Patrick’s Day Foundation from a focus on the life of St. Patrick to the global implications of the rebellion. The winner is handed a $1,000 check at the chamber’s annual breakfast the Irish Chamber of Atlanta that will be held this year on Friday, March 11, at the Capital City Club downtown.
“The theme this year is “Easter 1916 and the Birth of the Irish Nation’,” Dr. Flannery told Global Atlanta. “And in order to stimulate the students and their teachers, I ‘ve emphasized some ideas and issues connected with the Rising that I hope will also be of general interest. These include the nature of republican and democratic forms of government; the progressive ideas of Padraig Pearse on educational reform; and the role of the arts in shaping a nation with a ‘living soul’.”
On April 15 at 7 p.m., the Consulate General of Ireland is to host a special screening of the documentary at the Plaza Cinema in Atlanta. The noted academic Roy F. Foster, the Carroll Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Oxford, in the United Kingdom, is to introduce the screening. Tickets will be issued to the public at no cost.
Prof. Foster is to deliver the College of Arts and Sciences Plummer Lecture at Georgia State University the keynote address for the Southern regional meeting of the American Conference for Irish Studies. The lecture is to take place in the Speakers Auditorium, Student Center Building at 44 Cortland St. at 5 p.m. on April 14.
On April 26-27, the play The Plough and the Stars by the Irish writer Seán O’Casey that portrays the politically charged atmosphere surrounding the Easter Rising is to be performed at The Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta beginning at 7:30 p.m., to be followed by a session for questions and answers.
Download instructions for participating in the St. Patrick’s Day essay contest here.