Republic of Ireland news

Rising commemorations begin with separate events

President Michael D Higgins will leads Saturday's official state commemoration of the centenary of the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa

THE first of more than 40 events organised by the Republic's government to mark the Easter Rising took place on Saturday with the commemoration, 100 years to the day, of the funeral of revolutionary Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa.

Best known for the graveside oration by Padraig Pearse, the Fenian's burial on August 1 1915 is widely regarded as a rallying cry for republicanism and an armed struggle against British rule in Ireland.

Sinn Féin later held a separate re-enactment of the funeral, which was one of the largest in Ireland's history.

At Glasnevin Cemetery on Saturday morning President Michael D Higgins joined Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys for a wreath laying ceremony and to hear the re-enactment of Pearse's immortal words: "The fools, the fools, they have left us our Fenian dead and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace."

Some of the descendants of O'Donovan Rossa's family were present.

The taoiseach described O'Donovan Rossa, nicknamed 'Dynamite' for orchestrating the first-ever republican bombings in British cities, as a major figure in Irish history.

"His funeral remains one of the pivotal moments in Irish history and was an occasion that would be hugely instrumental in shaping the future of our nation," he said.

Mr Higgins led the commemorations by laying a wreath while a volley of shots rang out and the tricolour was raised and Amhrán na bhFiann played.

Ms Humphreys, whose office is overseeing the 40 plus events marking the Easter Rising, said the re-enactment was the official start of the centenary celebrations which she said will be "appropriate and respectful".

"The now famous graveside oration, given by Padraig Pearse, left a lasting impact and travelled far beyond the confines of this cemetery," she said.

John Green, chair of Glasnevin Trust, said O'Donovan Rossa's funeral was the most significant of all those of Irish republicans.

"The selection of Padraig Pearse was Clarke's, having groomed him for the task at Bodenstown in 1913," he said.

"His oration at the graveside was a masterpiece which invoked the passions of the past and laid bare the task ahead."

The centenary has also been marked with a commemorative stamp of a picture of the burial in Glasnevin and events in Cork including a torch-lit parade in Skibbereen.

At the Sinn Féin enactment, party leader Gerry Adams described the funeral of O'Donovan Rossa as a prelude to the Easter Rising.

"Today almost a century later we have many, like O'Donovan Rossa, who spent years as political prisoners, or were on the run or were forced into exile," he said.

"We remember also all those who suffered and died in the most recent conflict, including our patriot dead, some of whom are laid to rest in this cemetery."

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