“Hagiography” is a biography that idolises its subjects and having written about a LOT of Easter Rising talks and events in the last few weeks, I am wondering lately if there is a bit of “hagiographing” going on in all these talks. The largest amount of talks was about the role of women in the Easter Rising and the other section of talks is about the leaders of the Rising. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go to any of the talks yet, but reading the descriptions, it seems that (nearly) every speaker feels obliged to paint a heroic-ish picture of the participants in the Rising.
For a historic treatment of an event it would be good to look at ALL aspects. And unfortunately, the immediate outcome of the Easter Rising was an unmitigated disaster. The surrender can’t have been the planned or preferred end of the Rising and it can’t have been the intention either to get so many of the leaders killed after the events. So where did they fail and why did they fail and who would have to take the responsibility for the failure of the Easter Rising? Bad planning? Bad execution? Too much idealism? Wrong assessment/expectation of the British reaction? What could have been done differently to successfully achieve the goals that they had? Was it even possible to achieve them?
I know all these questions could criticise the leaders of the Rising and that seems to be inappropriate this year. In hindsight, but only in hindsight!!!, we know that the sacrifice of the volunteers involved in 1916 achieved Ireland’s independence some years later, but that does not turn the Easter Rising itself into a success. The events in 1916 were an important trigger that lead to the the successful separation from Britain and it posthumously justified the Easter Rising, but it was still a failed operation if you look at the events in 1916 only.
Discussing this wouldn’t have to dirty the reputation of the volunteers, but ignoring it unfortunately turns many of the talks into blinkered hagiographies.
Do you and your family celebrate birthdays? Yes? I bet these birthdays are made up of a day and a month and a year. So, for example 12 June 1986 or 06 August 1952 and you might even remember some important events from your history classes or from recent events? The Second World War ended on 02 September 1945, and the attacks on the World Trade Centre happened on 11 September 2001. All very clear and internationally the same system is used. It is called a “date”!
But what about the 1916 Rising? Do you know when it happened? Sure, on Easter Monday! Come again? Easter Monday!
Easter is the only relevant, completely moveable feast in our calender. It could take place any time between 22 March and 25 April and is calculated based on moon and sun (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter#Date). In 725 the rule to determine the date of Easter was “The Sunday following the full Moon which falls on or after the equinox”. This was modified a little, but it still uses the same principle.
So, how about we celebrate your birthday instead of on 12 June 1986, on the first Tuesday after the full moon in the sixth month of the year? You would probably say that that is stupid, right?
But what about the Easter Rising in 1916? Yes, in 1916 it took place in Easter Monday, but does that justify to celebrate it every year on Easter Monday? ONLY if we can celebrate your birthday also based on the lunar-sun cycle!
The event in 1916 took place on 24 April 1916 not on 06 April as it is celebrated this year or on 28 March as the 100th anniversary is celebrated in 2016. And that does NOT make ANY sense at all!
Ohh and you might think the problem was because that many years ago, they gave the day more relevance than the date?! So in this day and age we should be smarter, right? Can I remind you of the “Good Friday Agreement”? Looks like an Irish problem!?
The 1916 Easter Rising Commemoration is celebrated at Easter Sunday every year. It doesn’t make sense really, because we all know that Easter is literally a moving feast. The actual Easter Rising in 1916 took place on Easter Monday, which was 24 April 1916. So this year we are quite close to the actual date. Considering how significant the event is in Irish history, you would think the right thing would be to celebrate it on the correct date, no? Imagine you were born at Easter, would you then celebrate your birthday at Easter every year or rather on the correct date?
No matter what you think, this year the commemoration will take place on Easter Sunday again. It is an odd celebration all the important people are involved: The president, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence but apart from the reading of the Proclamation of independence, it is mainly a military parade, that seems totally out of date.
Let’s hope that the 100th anniversary in 2016 (on the random date of 27 March) will be more appropriate to the historical significance of the date.
If you want to attend the spectacle this year, you have to be in position (near the GPO) by 11:15 and then wait until 12:00. Video screens on either side of the GPO will show what is happening.