In 2016 we commemorated the Easter Rising from 1916. Everybody had huge expectations and I think now that we have left 2016 behind, it is time to look back and to assess if the expectations were met or if the whole thing was a big disappointment.
In 2015 I had expected that the following year will be full of funeral re-enactments and other drama and re-lived pain. Sinn Fein were positioning themselves to be in charge of Dublin City (through the position of “Lord” Major) and it seemed that they wanted to run the whole show.
When 2016 arrived it immediately started with a flurry of events. Talks, discussions, tours, music, poetry, theatre etc and it looked as if this would continue throughout the year. The events were mostly of high quality with very dedicated and passionate people running it and it all culminated in a great (RTE-organised) event on Easter Monday that had whole Dublin buzzing with activity. The streets around Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square were packed with people, O’Connell Street was more than full and Smithfield Plaza was as busy as I had seen it never before. There were concerts, historic car exhibitions, historic trade demonstrations, talks, theatre and everything else you can imagine under the umbrella of “cultural commemoration”. It was an outstanding day.It was very surprising that RTE got overall responsibility as the event had nothing directly to do with TV or Radio, but they did a really great job in keeping all together in that one day.
After Easter Monday, however, it all ended very abruptly. The odd exhibition continued and for the rest of the year only a small number of talks popped up but otherwise it was all done and dusted.
This latter part disappointed me! I didn’t think that all was discussed and sorted by Easter Monday, so the rest of the year could easily have had more activities. Before Easter Monday it was nearly a bit much because all was crammed in the first four months of the year and Easter Monday was – as mentioned – a true highlight and couldn’t have been much better.
Luckily NO political party claimed “ownership” of the commemorations and no one party had bigger influence over it than another party. And luckily also, the commemorations were a celebration and not a sad, drab affair.
So all in all, I would give 2016 a 8 out of 10 as far as 1916 commemorations are concerned. I learned a lot, understood a lot better afterwards and was (for the first time since I live in Ireland) impressed by RTE.
Now we have to ask, what is next. The Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) is next, followed by the Irish Civil War (1922-1923) and history get a lot more controversial at that time. But maybe we can find some positive common denominator there as well?