Monday, April 06, 2015

Taking The First Steps On The Road To The Rising

The clock is officially ticking. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, Ireland will gear up for the centenary of the Easter Rising.

You'll hear a great deal about it as it gets closer. Tourism is critical to the Irish economy and what better attraction can a country have than the one-hundredth birthday of its, well, not so much birth as a pipping, the first crack in the shell before Ireland emerged.
Dublin, 1916
Those who would like to understand what this road is all about would do well to read A TERRIBLE BEAUTY. It was rather a long road, you see, and the rocky path is best walked in fictional form. Readers can delve into the root causes that sent a group of well-educated gentlemen to take up arms against their colonial overlords despite the overwhelming odds. An easier approach than plowing through a history book.

Ireland's national television network is involved in stirring up the general public. It would never do to have the residents of Ireland less than enthused about the centenary of the Rising, especially when the tourists descend and expect some level of excitement based on the publicity releases that are going to influence their thinking.

Stroll over to O'Connell Street today and you will step into O'Connell Street as it might have looked one hundred years ago. RTE is creating an imaginary setting with actors and a stage set on a reproduced tram car. Various performances will be presented live, with broadcasts for those unable to reach O'Connell Street.

There were many unable to reach O'Connell Street in 1916, but that's another story.

Local shops are participating, with window displays or readings that reflect Edwardian life in Dublin. It's to be a family-friendly event, quite unlike the actual Rising that featured live ammunition and very real death. Rebellions are not pretty, but hindsight has the ability to blur the unpleasantness and focus on individual acts of heroism.

Hindsight also allows the current crop of politicians to argue over the remembrance of the event and how best to commemorate it. Celebrate the military aspect or criticize the founders who took up guns prematurely? Play down the bloodshed or play up the bravery of those who acted while others stood still and complained about the state of Ireland in 1916? Invite British royalty or keep them away from the surviving relations of the rebels who might still resent the fact that their ancestor was executed by order of the British government after the rebellion failed?

All that, however, is in the future. Today, O'Connell Street will be in the past.

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