West Cork to mark life and death of O’Donovan Rossa

The life and death of Fenian Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa will be marked in his native West Cork this summer, a century after his Dublin funeral proved a rallying cry for the 1916 Rising.

West Cork to mark life and death of O’Donovan Rossa

Among the events planned is a recreation of an 1863 march through Skibbereen organised by O’Donovan Rossa in sympathy with a Polish uprising. The plan is to involve Cork’s Polish community, fulfilling a Government aim to have as much participation as possible by the new Irish in the Decade of Centenaries.

A centenary Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York will mark his death there in late June 1915, after 44 years in effective exile.

It was at O’Donovan Rossa’s funeral in Glasnevin Cemetery on August 1, 1915, that Pádraig Pearse’s famous ‘the fools, the fools, the fools’ graveside oration was delivered. At that stage, he and other Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) men had been secretly plotting the Easter rebellion for almost a year.

Gabriel Doherty, lecturer at University College Cork’s school of history, said that O’Donovan Rossa is the archetypal figure of the IRB’s sister movement, the Fenians, providing a unique link from the Great Famine, through the 1860s Fenian rebellions, his political imprisonment in England, and on to the 1916 Rising.

In West Cork, ideas to mark his death have been in discussion since late last year. Also planned is a GAA tournament for clubs named O’Donovan Rossa, a hedge school, exhibitions, cultural and civic events.

The details emerged at a weekend meeting organised by Mr Doherty in Kilmurry, where city and county historical societies suggested how the Rising and War of Independence should be commemorated in Cork.

Among the ideas discussed were new memorials and maintenance of existing ones, re-enacting the Irish Volunteer’s Easter 1916 mobilisation in Cork, marking the arrest and execution in Cork of Thomas Kent in May 1916, school essay competitions, funding for research and commemorative events, recognition of the supporting role of women’s organisation Cumann na mBan to the Irish Volunteers, and developing and marketing tourist trails of War of Independence sites.

“It is bottom-up community action ideas like this that should take the lead in all the commemorations in the years ahead,” Mr Doherty told the meeting.

He will bring the proposals to the commemoration committee of Cork County Council, whose heritage officer Conor Nelligan said a public forum for ideas is likely to be held in late March.

Make a show of your vision of Ireland

RTÉ has launched a competition in which entrants can depict their vision of Ireland in 101 years time — and turn it into a TV programme.

Described as “a national television essay competition”, 2116 Vision is not intended to as an exercise in gazing into crystal balls, but instead asks for “creative ideas about how that future might actually be shaped for the public good”.

Applicants can write a conventional essay or use other media, including photography and film, to outline their vision of how Ireland could look on the 200th anniversary of the Easter Rising, but entries must be submitted by March 16.

A jury will shortlist 10 entries, which will then be published on the 2116 Vision website, after which three entries will be selected to go into television production.

The winning entries will be made with the support of Yellow Asylum Films and directed by Alan Gilsenan.

He said: “This is a unique opportunity for anyone, anywhere, to place new thinking about how we live and how we might shape the future right at the forefront of public discussion.

“It’s a completely open door and we have a truly open mind.

“In essence, we’re looking for original ideas conveyed in an original way.

“These ideas can be about anything but they should stimulate the way we think and provoke considerable debate.” The finished documentaries are due to be broadcast on RTÉ2 in the autumn, while the interviewing stage will take place in April.

The remit for entry includes that all content is original and that any written entry should not exceed 3,000 words.

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