Gabriel Doherty: Public key to success of 1916 centenary

The success of the 1916 commemorations next year will be measured how well the public is converted to the principles behind the Easter Rising, says a historian.

Gabriel Doherty: Public key to success of 1916 centenary

Gabriel Doherty of the school of history at University College Cork said levels of public engagement in community, local authority, and State events will be great if they can match those for this year’s events in West Cork to mark the centenary of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa’s death, or the State funeral for Thomas Kent.

“The first and probably most important measure of success is the extent to which the principles are adhered to,” said Mr Doherty, a member of the expert advisory group for the State’s 1916 events. “If you can say whatever was done was true to the principles of the Proclamation, it will be a success.”

He delivered a talk on Cork before and after 1916 at Cork County Library, which plans a number of public engagement events over the next year. The programme of national events to be published next week will include 400 in Cork City and county, between ceremonial events, historical reflections, cultural events, and activities for the youth and diaspora.

“The real test is to see if activities can convert the people who haven’t got the same instinctive interest in the subject or are bored by it, or who haven’t got family members involved in what happened,” said Mr Doherty.

Many local history and heritage groups planning events were at yesterday’s Celebrating Cork Past Exhibition in Cork City Hall. Knockraha Area Historical & Heritage Society showed items from the local grenade factory that supplied the Cork IRA in the War of Independence. Kilmurry Historical and Archaeological Association displayed plans for its 50-year-old museum’s move next spring to a purpose-built new home, where items associated with the nearby Kilmichael and Béal na Bláth ambush sites will be on show.

Earlier this week, the Celebrating Cork Past committee gave lifetime awards to ballet teacher Aruba Coghlan, whose Cork Dance Company marks its 50th year in 2016, and her husband, historian Seán Pettit.

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