16 December 2015
By Bryan Smyth
Speaking at the launch in County Hall of plans for 1916 commemorations by the local authority, Cllr Frank O’Flynn Chairman of the Cork County 1916 Centenary Programme stated that Cork will play a central role in the 1916 centenary celebrations and this is as it should be as Cork played a significant role in winning Irish independence. A very large number of the people from communities throughout Cork County attended the launch of the Cork County 1916 Centenary Programme. Youghal Comhaltas Ceolteoiri , Cobh Re-enactment Group and the Irish Military Group were in attendance as well as Nora Riordan, a grand niece of Thomas Kent who read the proclamation.
In launching the 1916 programme for Cork, Cllr O’Flynn stated that we reflect on this seminal event in Irish history – the courage and patriotism of the many Cork volunteers, the most famous being Thomas Kent of Castlelyons, Sean Hurley of Drinagh; the legacy from the Easter Rising; and the vision which will guide us in the future. The Rising of 1916 hold an enduring significance for Ireland which should not be lost in Irish History. Every Easter we celebrate the events that took place in 1916, but as we move towards the future we cannot forget our past and its relevance in today’s Irish life.
The Rising of Easter Week was planned by men and women who feared that without a dramatic gesture of this kind, the sense of national identity that survived the seven hundred years of British rule would be lost within their time, leaving Ireland to become yet another lost state within the British Empire. During this one short Easter week, the flame of Irish Freedom was lit and gave hope, not alone to the people of Ireland, but these actions became an inspiration for countries, from India to Africa, to pursue and eventually secure their own independence. It was simply a continuation of the dreams of Tone and Emmett, that Ireland should take her place as an independent sovereign state among the Nations of the World. The leaders were honest and unselfish people, who were prepared, and indeed expected, to make the supreme sacrifice, that we might be free.
Born into an independent Irish state, in which nationalism has been dominant, this generation must find it difficult to grasp emotionally the political atmosphere of Ireland in the years before 1916. The very success of 1916 has perhaps weakened our understanding of why its leaders felt that the Rising was needed in order to revive Irish nationalism.
As Ireland plays an important sovereign role among the community of Nations, shares sovereignty with twenty six other member states of the European Union, and exercises with determination, we can ponder the obvious alternative.
It is appropriate, as we approach the centenary, that we rededicate our efforts to fulfilling the spirit and high ideals of the Proclamation of the Provisional Government and the unity of our island. We owe much to the group of poets, scholars, teachers, veteran Fenians, who changed the course of Irish history.
Cllr O’Flynn advised that there will be two national events outside of Dublin which will be held in Cork. The first of these is on 28th March 2016 when Cork County and Cork City will join in honouring the occasion. The second will be to mark the death of Thomas Kent on the 9th May 2016 in Collins’ barracks.
An extensive public consultation on the 1916 Centenary Commemoration occurred In June 2015 throughout Cork County which was well attended. A very good response was received from this and there were one hundred community applications which will cover over three hundred events, which is the highest number of events in any county throughout Ireland to commemorate the event.
These Cork events include Castlelyons which will honour Thomas Kent on Sunday 15th May 2016 by a parade of bands and the erection of a monument to commemorate Thomas Kent; Castletownbere will re-enact a march by the Beara volunteers from Eyeries to Lauragh, County Kerry; Cobh intend to open a 1916 museum and re-enact the Cobh volunteers; Kanturk will hold a 1916 Centenary Concert entitled Remembering the Risen People of Duhallow; Fermoy on Sunday 2nd May 2016 will celebrate Mass, hold a parade and erect plaques on Fermoy Bridge which will be named the Kent bridge, and also erect a plque to Thomas McDonagh’s home in McDonagh Terrace and unveil a commemorative garden in Fermoy Town Park and Drinagh will honour Sean Hurley the only Corkman to have died during the events of the Eastern Rising in Dublin will erect plaques on the entrance to Drinagh.