Easter Rising Commemoration goes online for second year
“Celebrate those who fought for our freedom yesterday by working towards it today” So concluded Cavan Monaghan TD, Matt Carthy, in his Easter Rising commemoration address last weekend.
For the second year running, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, it was not possible to hold the annual Easter gatherings to remember those who fought for Irish Freedom. Instead, once again, Co. Monaghan Sinn Féin organised an online commemoration featuring recitations of the Proclamation of the Republic and the Monaghan Republican Roll of Honour, music and private wreath laying ceremonies across the county. Almost 4,000 people have currently viewed the online event which is still available to view on the County Monaghan Sinn Féin Facebook page and on YouTube.
Separate online commemorations were held across the country and abroad with the National Sinn Féin event being watched by over 40,000 viewers. It included a keynote address from Sinn Féin president, Marylou McDonald, in which she called on political leadership to show an ambition that matches the hope of a generation rising up with tenacity to lay claim to our destiny – by preparing for Irish Unity.
Introduction by Cllr. Cathy Bennett
North Monaghan Councillor, Cathy Bennett, opened the Co. Monaghan online commemoration, recounting the disappointment of many that “we are unable to gather together at the graves of our fallen patriots to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising”.
She said, regardless, that the online event was an important opportunity to reflect and remember. She said: “At Easter we recall the words of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic – the republic we still pursue, and that we are closer than ever to bringing to reality.
“Here, we will remember especially those from County Monaghan who are listed on the Republican Roll of Honour, including Seamus McElwain whose 35th anniversary falls this year. We remember Seamus and all those who fought and died for Ireland with pride” she stated.
Cllr. Bennett thanked all those who worked on this commemoration, particularly David Marron who produced the online video tribute.
Proclamation, Roll of Honour & Wreath layings
During the online event the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was recited by Ógra Shinn Féin members from across County Monaghan, with the cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council, Colm Carthy reading the opening lines and concluding with the listing of the signatories. Ógra SF members who contributed included: Eleanor Murphy, Oisín McConnon, Pete Donaghy, Kathleen Connolly, Paudi Meehan, Leanne Mulligan, Paul Traynor, Ruth Dooley Duffy, Stephen Murray, Tara Reilly, and Therese Donaghy.
In a poignant moment the County Monaghan Republican Roll of Honour was read aloud by the nephew of one of those whose name appears on that list. James McElwain, nephew of Seamus McElwain who was assassinated by the British SAS in 1986, recalled each of those IRA volunteers who died as a result of Active Service from 1916 to the most recent phase of the conflict.
This was followed by footage of wreath laying ceremonies that were held across County Monaghan in the days leading up to Easter in line with public health guidelines.
The wreath at the Fearghal Ó hAnnluian monument in Monaghan Town, the traditional start point of the Monaghan Easter commemoration was laid by former Dáil Deputy, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Other wreath layings included: Cllr. Colm Carthy at Carrickmacross, Cllr. Pat Treanor at Clones, Ownie Kirk at Donaghmoyne, Cllr. Cathy Bennett at Scotstown & Knockatallon, Cllr. Seán Conlon at Tyholland, Paul Gibbons at Castleblayney, Catriona Moen at Clontibret, Vincent Hanratty & Eileen Hanratty Gomez at Corduff, Jackie Crowe at Castleblayney, Josephine O’Hagan at Clara, Veronica Connolly at Carrickroe, Rosie Smyth O’Harte at Ballybay and Cllr. Noel Keelan at Inniskeen.
Tribute to Margaret Skinnader
The Co. Monaghan online Easter Commemoration included a special tribute to a daughter of County Monaghan – Margaret Skinnader.
Margaret, like James Connolly, was born in Scotland to Monaghan parents and participated in the 1916 Easter Rising.
During the centenary celebrations of the Rising in 2016 Seán Ó Roideáin penned a ballad in her memory. He made a recording of the song for use in this commemoration which became one of the more popular aspects of the event.
Address by Matt Carthy TD
In a speech delivered at the 1916 memorial at Market Square, Carrickmacross, local Sinn Féin TD, Matt Carthy provided the main oration for the online commemoration.
“Easter is special time of the year.
“It is a time of reflection, regeneration, prayer and remembrance.
“For Irish Republicans it is a time of commemoration.
“Unfortunately, for the second year running, we are unable to gather together in the usual way and instead are remembering our fallen patriots in our own homes or through online events.
“It was on Easter Monday in 1916 that Padraig Pearse stood outside the GPO in Dublin and read aloud the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, an act which set in train a series of events that led to the downfall of the British empire and inspired millions of freedom-loving people all over the world. The words of the proclamation continue to guide Irish Republicans to this day.
“We remember proudly all those who have given their lives in the pursuit of Irish Freedom.
“In County Monaghan we remember those on the Republican Roll of Honour associated with our own great county.
“People like James Connolly, a son of Monaghan parents, born in Glasgow he returned to Ireland and founded the Irish Citizen Army and became a leader in the Easter Rising – his writings continue to guide socialists and republicans the world over.
“People like Fearghal O hAnnluain, a young man from Monaghan Town who saw the failures and injustice that the partition of our country had created and committed himself to undoing it. He was killed on active service on New Years Day in 1957.
“On this 40th anniversary year of the 1981 Hunger Strike, we in Monaghan remember the ten brave men that lost their lives in Long Kesh gaol in order to defeat the attempts of the British government to criminalise the Irish freedom struggle.
“In County Monaghan we recall very especially, Kieran Doherty, a Belfast man who never set foot in Cavan Monaghan, but, who, nevertheless was elected as a TD for this constituency before he died on Hunger Strike. His election remains a source of real pride to republicans in these counties.
“This year also marks the 35th anniversary of the death of Volunteer Seamus McElwain, a true Co. Monaghan hero. Seamus was assassinated by the British SAS while on active service. Like James Connolly, Ferghal O hAnnluain and Kieran Doherty – Seamus McElwain was an Irish patriot who faced colonial injustice without fear.
“This Easter, we remember proudly all of those, across all generations who fought and died for the Irish Republic.
“This generation are in a fortunate position compared to those who came before us. We do not have to lay our lives on the line in pursuit of Irish freedom and unity – we just have to work for it.
Reaching our full potential
“Ireland is a great country and the Irish people are a great people. But, we have yet to realise our full potential.
“We cannot do us until we can house and shelter all of our people, until we can provide healthcare to everyone regardless of how much money is in their bank accounts or which part of the country they live in.
“We cannot do it until the burden of paying for public services is shared by the wealthy as well as ordinary workers and families.
“We cannot possibly reach our full potential until our country is reunited and we can build the Republic proclaimed in 1916.
“There is much work to do, we have yet to persuade everyone. But, the arguments in favour of a better, fairer and United Ireland are strengthening by the day – This can be seen in the growing support for Sinn Féin.
“We will get through this difficult period, just as the Irish people have persevered through even tougher times in the past.
“And, when we do, the movement towards an Ireland that is united, free and in which equality and prosperity for all becomes the catch cry of every political decision that is made, must continue.
“We can build a republic that cherishes all of our children; that puts the interests of workers and families ahead of the profits of the vultures and bankers and speculators.
“Be part of that endeavour.
“Celebrate those who fought for our freedom yesterday by working towards it today.
“Beirgi Bua” he concluded.
The online County Monaghan Easter Rising commemoration then drew to a close with a beautiful rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann sang by Patricia Cosgrove.
“Now is the time for Irish Unity” – Mary Lou McDonald TD
In her Easter message, delivered separately on the National Sinn Féin social media sites, Mary Lou McDonald called on political leadership to show an ambition that matches the hope of a generation rising up with tenacity to lay claim to our destiny – by preparing for Irish Unity.
The Sinn Féin president said that a United Ireland presents an exciting opportunity to shape something new, something different and something better than anything that has gone before.
Teachta McDonald added that the grand vision of Pearse and Connolly has been renewed and that, much like the rebels of 1916, our generation too is impatient for change.
Teachta McDonald’s address read:
“The rebels of 1916 set out to liberate our country from British rule and to shape a nation that would thrive and prosper.
“They stepped into the role of change-makers because they believed in the new Ireland, the independent republic so poetically expressed in the proclamation.
“As a generation impatient for change, they knew their time had come. They seized the day. The legacy of the 1916 rebels bears witness in the Ireland of today.
“The people of this island – in the turbulence of a pandemic – again find ourselves at a crossroads. In a time of lives lost and lives disrupted, the failed ways of the old Ireland have been exposed like never before.
“And as we look forward together – as we seek change – Irish Unity comes into focus.
“A United Ireland presents an exciting opportunity to shape something new, something different, something better than anything that has gone before.
“A century on from partition, people wake up every morning and know that the divided Ireland of 2021 doesn’t work for them or their families. We see the broken politics of partition every day.
“People’s entire lives defined by the search for a home they can afford, by the struggle to access treatments when they are sick, working long hours and still not making ends meet, younger people starved of opportunity, and rural towns and villages left behind.
“The lack of fairness and inequality is frightening. People want better. They are fed-up with politics from a bygone age that holds them back and stifles their potential.
“The politics that gave us the Magdalene Laundries, industrial schools, mass emigration, fostered by a political class that desperately clings to past and to power.
“We recognise that partition is at the root of these failures and we are fired-up with ambition for the future.
“We see clearly that the task of bringing about real change for workers and families is linked inextricably to the goal of reunifying our country.
“The politics of a new Ireland has come of age. The grand vision of Pearse and Connolly is renewed.
“Irish Unity means positive change for us all. Not only is it achievable, it is necessary.
An idea whose time has come
“The practical challenges posed by Covid-19 and Brexit make this apparent. These crises have reshaped and energised the conversation on a United Ireland. Unity is being talked about in every corner of our island. This is because Irish Unity makes sense. It’s the very best idea for the future of Ireland.
“A United Ireland is an idea whose time has come. Much like the rebels of 1916, our generation too is impatient for change.
We refuse to accept the limitations of the past. We know that better is possible and we look with fresh eyes and fresh hearts at the prospect of Irish Unity.
We are excited and enthusiastic about the new beginning that unity offers our people.
Éire nua inar féidir lenár dteanga, ár gcultúr agus ár n-oidhreacht bláthú.
No longer will we be constrained by the unambitious dogma of official Ireland that so badly failed our parents and their parents before them.
No longer will we be told – this far and no further. A new generation is rising up with the hope and tenacity to lay claim to our destiny and to the future of our island.
Those in political leadership must show an ambition that matches this hope. Nowhere is that more important than in the office of An Taoiseach. We will not be constrained by old, jaded thinking. Or by those who wish to cast the debate on Irish Unity as an exhausted collision between green and orange or as a friction point between Britishness and Irishness.
“This gets us nowhere. Irish Unity is not the politics of shame or loss. It’s the politics of progress. The politics of a nation that transcends all the hurt, division and conflict of the past by forging a new future together, for all us.
“A people moving forward in the inclusive belief that no matter our backgrounds, no matter our identities, no matter the journey we have travelled to this point – that we can reconcile, that we can heal divisions, that we can lift each other up.
“The things we have in common – the things that bring us together – are far greater than those which divide us.
“In Ireland of 2021, the grave mistake and injustice of partition has come full circle.
“Partition has failed and unity is the answer. The winds of change blow all around us.
“It would be unforgivable, to emerge from this pandemic and not seize the opportunity to prepare for unity, for our new Ireland.
“We must prepare for a referendum on Irish Unity, for the people to have their say. Both governments must prepare for unity. The people must prepare too.
“Caithfimid labhairt faoin todhchaí. Caithfimid ullmhú don todhchaí, le chéile.
“When it comes to the future of our country, treading water is not good enough. It never has been. Now is the time for real ambition.
“Friends, today, we gather online to honour those who gave their lives for Irish freedom and we send solidarity to the families of our patriot dead.
“In so doing, we look firmly to the future. The last twelve months have been incredibly difficult for our people. However, through the chaos, hardship and pain, we have an exciting opportunity to build something new, something better – a United Ireland.
“We can do this. We can be the generation that unites Ireland. We – the people of Ireland – are up to this task.
“During this pandemic, you have responded with togetherness, kindness and compassion. This is who we are. These are the values of unity. The rebels of 1916 were the change-makers of their day.
“Today, the role of change-maker falls to us. This is our time.
“The past was for those who seek to divide. The future is for those of us who seek to unite.
“Those who seek to hold back the tide of change can have yesterday. But tomorrow is ours. A new and united Ireland is on the horizon. Let’s seize this moment, together.
“Ar aghaidh linn le chéile. An Phoblacht Abú!”