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Posted: 17 December 2007I

1916 in 1966 - Commemorating the Easter Rising

The official 50th anniversary commemorations of the Easter Rising in the Republic are examined in a new book: 1916 in 1966 - Commemorating the Easter Rising, edited by Professor Mary E. Daly, Principal of the UCD College of Arts and Celtic Studies and Dr Margaret O’Callaghan, Queen's University Belfast.

With contributions from Diarmaid Ferriter, Rebecca Graff-McRae, Roisin Higgins, Carole Holohan, Professor Michael Laffan, Dr Catheirne O’Donnell and Prof Tony Roche, the book considers how the Irish government reinvented the message of 1916 through the jubilee celebrations in 1966. It also explores the organisation of various unofficial commemorations of the Rising in Northern Ireland, and the significance of these for nationalist and unionist politics in the mid-1960s.

“Edited by two of the country’s most respected academics, this book is both illuminating and timely,” said An Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern who officially launched the book at the Royal Irish Academy on 12 December 2007. “It shines a light into Irish society in the 1960s and also offers a valuable guiding perspective on the politics of commemoration.”

“The value of history is not just about enriching our understanding of the past but also crucially about the lessons we can draw from it,” he continued. “Mary Daly is one of Ireland’s most active and respected historians. I was interested to read her assessment that while President DeValera was the most prominent figure in 1966, the intellectual character of the official commemoration was determined by Taoiseach Sean Lemass.”

“My Government is firmly of the view that in commemorating 1916, we have a duty to those whom we owe so much; their patriotism, vision, sacrifice and commitment. Without then we would not have our independence,” he said. “But, we also have a solemn and even more imperative duty of citizenship to vindicate the living generations who will come after us, to leave to them, as was left to us, a country that has profited from the continuing dedication, generosity and commitment of its people. Active citizenship is a sign of a good patriot.”

The book originated from a collaborative research project between UCD and Queen’s University Belfast — the 50th Anniversary Commemorations of the Easter Rising in 1966. This project was funded by the Higher Education Authority under the Programme for North–South Research.

1916 in 1966 - Commemorating the Easter Rising is published by the Royal Irish Academy and is available in bookshops.


Detailed Contents:

Introduction - Irish Modernity and ‘the patriot dead’ in 1966
Mary E. Daly and Margaret O’Callaghan

1 - ‘Less a commemoration of the actual achievements and more a commemoration of the hopes of the men of 1916’
Mary E. Daly

2 - ‘From Casement Park to Toomebridge’ – The Commemoration of the Easter Rising in Northern Ireland in 1966
Margaret O’Callaghan

3 – ‘I am the narrator over-and-above…the caller up of the dead’: Pageant and drama in 1966
Roisín Higgins

4 – More than a revival of memories? 1960s youth and the 1916 Rising
Carole Holohan

5 – Commemorating the Rising, 1922–65: ‘A figurative scramble for the bones of the patriot dead’?
Diarmaid Ferriter

6 – Forget politics! Theorising the political dynamics of commemoration and conflict
Rebecca Lynn Graff-McRae

7 – Pragmatism versus Unity: The Stormont Government and the 1966 Easter Commemoration
Catherine O’Donnell

8 – Sites of memory and memorial
Roisín Higgins

9 – Staging 1916 in 1966: Pastiche, parody and problems of representation
Anthony Roche

10 – Easter week and the historians
Michael Laffan

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1916 in 1966 - Commemorating the Easter Rising