Easter Rising of 1916 to be recalled at weekend packed with events

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Easter 1916 and the subsequent execution of some of the leaders of the Rising is to be recalled at a series of events in Portadown.

Over the weekend of the 7th and 8th May, Drumcree Community Centre, at Ashgrove Road, is set to host a programme of events.

The events include a discussion panel and will recall and examine a number of aspects of the 1916 Rising.

Also on display over the weekend will be a set of 13 commemorative panels relating to the cultural and national revival in the years leading up to 1916.

On Saturday at 1.30pm, the Drumcree Centre will screen the first of three separate films, commencing with the iconic film ‘Mise Éire’. This was the first ever full-length feature film in Irish and the first ever feature film based on actual newsreel footage, with the now famous musical score by Seán Ó Riada. Originally banned in the North when it was released in 1959, ‘Mise Éire’ covers the struggle for Irish independence from the 1890’s to 1917.

Starting at 3.15pm ‘My Rebel Father’ is a thirty minute interview, filmed in 1965, with Nora Connolly O’Brien, the eldest daughter of James Connolly. In this archived film interview, Nora movingly speaks of Connolly’s life as a father and as a trade union and political activist, as well as the last visit which she and her mother had with him just hours before his execution on 12th May 1916.

Later that afternoon, at 4.00pm there will be a screening of ‘Saoirse?’. Dealing with the period from 1919 to 1922, ‘Saoirse?’ chronicles the War of Independence, the Truce and Treaty, the establishment of the Free State and Stormont administrations and the outbreak of the Civil War.

On the afternoon of Sunday, 8th May, the Drumcree Centre will host a seminar to examine the role played by various individuals and organisations in the years leading up to and including the Easter Rising. The centre has put together a panel of speakers, each of whom will deliver enlightening and informative talks on different aspects of those times. This event commences at 2.30pm sharp and will conclude around 5.30pm.

Each of the four speakers at Sunday afternoon’s event will address specific topics.

The IRB - Ireland’s ‘secret revolutionary organisation’- Fergal McCluskey Described in the 1916 Proclamation as Ireland’s ‘secret revolutionary organisation’, the Irish Republican Brotherhood had existed for just over fifty years at the time of the Easter Rising. Fergal will speak about the origins of the IRB and the role it played in the years prior to 1916. Fergal McCluskey holds a PhD from Queen’s University Belfast and is author of ‘Fenians and Ribbonmen: the development of Republican politics in east Tyrone, 1898–1918’ and ‘Tyrone, The Irish Revolution, 1912–23’.

Labour, Class and Nationality - Tommy McKearney The Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU), under the leadership of Jim Larkin and James Connolly, led the stormy wave of class struggle that shook Ireland to its foundations in the years before 1916 and which saw poverty-stricken workers battle against their rich bosses on the streets of Dublin – a city whose slums were described at that time ‘as worse than those of Calcutta’. Former hunger-striker, and now a full-time trade union organiser, Tommy McKearney will examine those times and the impact they had in the lead-up to 1916.

The Language and Cultural Revival – Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh The years from the 1880’s onwards saw a tremendous revival and re-awakening of interest in the Irish language and culture as well as the creation and development of several major organisations such as Conradh na Gaeilge and the GAA. Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh will examine how the cultural revival contributed to and strengthened the demand for national independence. Feargal is the author of ‘Language, Resistance and Revival’.

Revolutionary Women - Ruth Taillon It is estimated that as many as 300 women were actively involved in the Easter Rising of 1916 and their roles varied as widely as the women themselves. Ruth will speak about how Irish women (despite their frequent omission from the history books) played a key role in the struggle for independence in order to achieve equal rights with men. Ruth Taillon is the author of ‘When History Was Made: The Women of 1916’ and is currently the Director of the Centre for Cross-Border Studies based in Armagh.

Admission to all the weekend’s events is free. However, as there is a limit to the number of people which Drumcree Community Centre can comfortably seat, the seminar on Sunday 8th May will be a ticket only event.

Anyone wishing to secure their free tickets for the seminar should contact the Drumcree Centre as soon as possible to avoid being disappointed.