Higgins to lead patriot’s ‘funeral’

The funeral of Fenian patriot Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa in August 1915 will be remembered a century later in Dublin tomorrow in the first State ceremonial event of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.

Higgins to lead patriot’s ‘funeral’

President Michael D Higgins will lead the official representation at the graveside of the Cork-born rebel at Glasnevin Cemetery, 100 years after Pádraig Pearse delivered the oration marking the first public step towards the following year’s Easter Rising.

After the President lays a wreath, there will be a minute’s silence followed by a piper’s lament and, before a volley of shots is fired over the grave, an actor will repeat the historic speech in which Pearse declared: “The fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead. And while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”

The tone of the speech, and the open defiance of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army by taking over the streets of Dublin in a funeral procession from Dublin City Hall, emboldened the Irish Republican Brotherhood’s military council to forge ahead with their own rebellion plans. Most of the key organisers of the rising were centrally involved in organising the funeral of O’Donovan Rossa, who died at the end of June 1915 in exile in New York.While 1,500 free tickets for members of the public have been allocated, big screens outside the cemetery will allow another 5,000 people to watch the event, which begins at 10.30am and will be televised live on RTÉ One. It will also be attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, other Irish political figures, and British and other diplomatic representatives.

Later on Saturday, the impressive funeral procession will be recreated as part of a Sinn Féin event which leaves City Hall at 2pm and will proceed to Glasnevin with the casket borne by a horse-drawn hearse just like it did at the exact same time on the same date 100 years earlier.

Organisers are encouraging the public to wear period dress and watch the cortege pass through Westmoreland St, O’Connell St, Parnell Square and on to Glasnevin Cemetery, where it is expected to arrive at 3pm and big screens across the road at Claremont Park will relay events inside.

Shane Kenna, author of a new O’Donovan Rossa biography, will be the speaker at the unveiling of two bronze plaques on Dublin’s O’Donovan Rossa Bridge at 3pm by the National Graves Association. The same organisation will launch a new print of the famous graveside funeral scene at the Glasnevin Museum at 5.30pm tomorrow.

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