Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916

As we look back now with almost a hundred years past the event we can see clearer than perhaps those who experienced those times.

It was actually the beginning of the end for the world’s first truly global empire.

Ireland was a colony that showed by example the way forward to people in Africa and India.

Whether it would be by physical force or massive civil disobedience breaking the connection with Britain was both possible and desirable.

Today Britain’s importance on the global stage is tiny by comparison to the period of the Great War.

The judgment of history has vindicated the men and women of 1916.

What they were about 97 years ago was anything but democratic, but they knew they had to act.

It was a revolutionary strike against not only British rule but Redmondism which had offered up Ireland’s manhood to the meat grinder of the Western Front for the promise of limited self-government after the war.

The insurgents were, in the main, rank amateurs against a professional army.

It was a total mismatch and the real fighting only lasted three days at most.

However, after the grounding of arms in Moore Street the British started to make a series of epochal errors.

Dubliners, hostile to the  rebellion that had wrecked their city were horrified and angered at the  daily diet of executions as the leaders were, one by one, led into the stonebreaker’s yard in Kilmainhaim.

The final barbarity was the dying Connolly strapped to a chair.

When the thousands of rebels who had been deported to Britain came back from the internment camps then Ireland had a network of men across the island that had fallen under the spell of a young strap of a lad from West Cork.

Two of them were my grannie’s brothers and they would have gone through hell’s front door for Mick Collins.

The British had, very sportingly, grouped and trained a guerrilla army that would defeat her chaps in places like Kilmichael and Carrowkennedy.

When Collins’ squad took out the cream of the British Secret Service Crown Forces reacted with savagery against a crowd watching a Gaelic football match.

Two years ago in Dublin the British head of state bowed her head in silent tribute at a monument honouring the insurgents of Easter week and the Irish Republican Army that was created by those who took part in the terrible beauty.

She also visited Croke Park were the forces of her grandfather took out their vengeance on the innocent.

Today in Donegal ,as I wear my Easter lily, I do wonder about one part of the Queen’s realm.

Is it acceptable in the native country of Connolly to honour the sacrifice of Easter Week?

The British people are now well accustomed to an entire month of Poppy porn as the marketing people try to sell another failed foreign adventure.

The Royal British Legion emblem is increasingly acceptable in post conflict Ireland as people want to remember a relative who followed Redmond’s call and died in Flanders.

Reconciliation is, of course, a two way boreen.

Is it acceptable in Scotland to wear an Easter Lily or does First Minister Salmond’s new law consider that to be verboten?

Perhaps next Easter in Holyrood some MSPs can test the water by wearing  that emblem of remembrance.

Today in Ireland all is changed changed utterly.

At the GPO today a sovereign state celebrates its origins.

This is not the limited self-government that Redmond was willing to settle for.

As dad rarely does fashion accessories in this house my two ladies were interested in the lily pinned to their father.

So we chatted last night about the importance of remembering and how their lives were different because of what others had given.

They recently had to get passports for school trips.

Mo cailíní are now ready to step out into the world as young Irishwomen, Gaeilgoiri and citizens of this republic, one day they could be elected head of state.

This is not the Ireland their folks grew up in at the time of the Rising.

The Ireland we have now was fashioned back then by the decisions and sacrifices made by the Easter Week generation.

They were correct to rise in arms against the British and even our former enemy now recognises the legitimacy of that struggle.

Today there are a few, a tiny number, who think that there is still a place for physical force in prosecuting the struggle for national sovereignty.

They could not be more wrong and all they are doing is providing work experience for British spooks.

Living in a Border county we know well that Britain’s footprint on the island has not completely gone.

However, in the North all is changing, changing utterly.

The fleg tribe find themselves in a living nightmare from which there is no escape.

They are starting to realise that their Norn Iron is heading for extinction and that the new north will have manifestations of Irishness all around them.

Respect for the nationalist tradition is being woven into the fabric of daily life and the old British monoculture is gone and it isn’t coming back.

The Britishness of the unionist people will also be afforded space, but on the basis of equality not supremacy.

Like the poor whites in the Deep South they will need help to embrace the new reality.

Currently the concept of equality and mutual respect terrifies them into street violence.

All of these changes can be traced back to Easter Week.

The Proclamation remains the reference point of many on this island who want our country to be better.

The document was a fusion of Padraig Pearse’s imagination and James Connolly’s hard headed practicality.

Almost twenty years before Easter week the Irishman from Edinburgh wrote this:

“If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.” Shan Van Vocht January, 1897.

Today the party that Connolly formed imposes austerity on the poorest people in this society on behalf of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.

All of the children of this nation are not yet cherished equally and so the revolution that was ignited on Easter 1916 is still unfinished.

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