Michael D Higgins has paid tribute to the selfless Irish Volunteers whom he said laid the foundations for freedom 100 years ago.
The President was joined by Taoiseach Enda Kenny at a public ceremony in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin to mark the centenary of the formation of Óglaigh na hÉireann (Irish Volunteers).
Mr Higgins laid a wreath in honour of the founding volunteers and praised the thousands of men who thought beyond themselves and their own lives.
He said: “This was an army drawn from people who were motivated to rise and to vindicate the unfulfilled hopes and aspirations for freedom, of the previous generations, men and women anxious to live up to their responsibilities as they saw them towards future generations.
“Through the foundation of Óglaigh na hÉireann they were envisioning a brighter future for our citizens in freedom.”
Óglaigh na hÉireann was founded on Nov 25, 1913, at a public meeting in the Rotunda Rink in Dublin.
Formed to reinforce demand for Home Rule, they played an integral role in the events leading to the foundation of the State.
Two years ago, the Queen laid a wreath at the same memorial.
Mr Higgins, who is to make a symbolic state visit to Britain next April, said: “We live in a very different world to that of the generation of 1913. One century later, our relations with our near neighbours, our place in Europe and in the world, has been transfigured.
“We live with our independence granted, connections offered to us, or blooming already, which would have been unimaginable to our forefathers.”
* An exhibition on the Irish Volunteers runs at the Pillar Room at the Rotunda Hospital until Nov 29.
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