A different Dublin 100 years on from the Rising

The Wishing Trees of St Stephens Green would give anthropologists a field day. One was elegantly decorated with dangling cards neatly printed with lines from the Proclamation of Easter 1916, each one a wish, an ambition, or a dream for the future Ireland.

A different Dublin 100 years on from the Rising

Freedom, sovereignty, control of Irish destiny, religious and civil liberty, happiness and prosperity, equality, valour, and discipline — the rebels had noble ideals.

Beside the tree representing 1916 was another one bedecked in colourful strips of paper handwritten a hundred years later by the public at large and representing the wishes and dreams for the next century.

General views at a wreath laying ceremony at the Four Courts in Dublin on Easter Monday Photo: Maxwells
General views at a wreath laying ceremony at the Four Courts in Dublin on Easter Monday Photo: Maxwells

There were noble thoughts there too. “I wish there was no more war around the world,” wrote Conor, 10.

“That you may have a healthy and happy life,” wished Nana Maura and Grandad Kevin for their grandson, James.

“I wish for more people to speak Irish,” mused someone with patriotic fervour.

Then there were the more specific wishes: “I wish I had a dog”; “To do well in the Junior Cert”; “To do well in the Junior Cert without studying”; “To have the right man, in the right place, with the right intentions”; “I wish I had a government”.

Suffice to say, humour and mischief were rising too this weekend.

Jacqueline Blanchfield was having it both ways — heartfelt wishes for happiness for loved ones and a hearty Up The Dubs!

Christina Long, whose father, Henry Cassidy, fought at the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin and was a member of the Irish Citizen Army, is pictured with Acting Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar at a wreath laying ceremony at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin on Easter Monday. Photo: Maxwells
Christina Long, whose father, Henry Cassidy, fought at the Royal College of Surgeons, Dublin and was a member of the Irish Citizen Army, is pictured with Acting Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar at a wreath laying ceremony at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin on Easter Monday. Photo: Maxwells

The Tallaght woman had come to the city centre with eight members and three generations of her family.

“I grew up close to here so this is my old stomping ground,” she said. “Mind you, if you walked near the flowers then or too near the pond, you’d get a good chase off the park warden. And look at us now, tying wishes to the trees.”

For Jacqueline, the events in Dublin over the weekend had been hugely uplighting.

“It’s given us a sense of ownership of our city,” she said. “We get wrapped up in the negative and our pride in the city was lost. This has been so positive, it’s given us back our pride.”

That pride was evident across the pedestrianised city centre, thronged with extraordinary crowds enjoying a huge range of events.

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In the Mansion House, more than 50 children from the National Performing Arts School provided the musical backdrop to a day of discussions on life in 1916, beginning with a novel take on David Bowie’s ‘Heroes’, which they performed in honour of the Rising leaders.

A mid-morning céilí at Earlsfort Terrace proved it’s never too early for dancing, while huge attendances at the Edwardian fun fair in Smithfield and demonstrations of century old crafts at Merrion Square proved it’s never too late to explore history.

Children from the Rainbow Drama School, Donnycarney, Dublin, during the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising event in the city centre. Picture: Gareth Chaney
Children from the Rainbow Drama School, Donnycarney, Dublin, during the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising event in the city centre. Picture: Gareth Chaney

At Moore St, Brendan Plunkett came for the wreath-laying outside his ancestral home, Number 16, which his grandparents bought in 1914 and where they ran the family butchers until the 1960s — apart from during the Rising when they had to evacuate and the rebel leaders took up occupation.

Pleased with the new preservation plans for the historical buildings, Plunkett nonetheless wishes action had been taken earlier.

Enya O’Connell, 18, in period costume with her mother Róisín, from Laois, on O’Connell St. Picture: RollingNews.ie
Enya O’Connell, 18, in period costume with her mother Róisín, from Laois, on O’Connell St. Picture: RollingNews.ie

“This whole area is a historical war zone and should have been preserved, but I think now we are all awakened to the need for ownership of important sites by the State for the people.”

Also at the Moore St ceremony were the great-grandniece, great-great-grandniece, and great-great-great-grandnephew of Elizabeth O’Farrell, the Cumann na mBan nurse who tended to James Connolly and delivered the surrender note on behalf of the Rising leaders.

Great-grandniece Maria Fitzpatrick said ‘Aunt Lizzie’ was remembered in the family as fiercely patriotic.

“She was very Irish. She only wore Irish tweed and if she was buying a present it would have to be Irish linen,” she said.

“I think she would be proud of the progress women have made. The women today are very strong-minded, like her, but there would be another part of her would be sorry that she never got what she fought for. She wanted a united Ireland.”

Céilí dancing on Earlsfort Terrace during the Reflecting the Rising event on Easter Monday. Picture: Gareth Chaney
Céilí dancing on Earlsfort Terrace during the Reflecting the Rising event on Easter Monday. Picture: Gareth Chaney

That point was expressed in a very different way on O’Connell St when members of Republican Sinn Féin dressed in paramilitary-style uniform, paraded to the GPO, read the Proclamation, and declared the previous day’s events a sham, given the continued partition of the island.

The crowds who accompanied them and were busily snapping them on their phones had for the most part followed the music of their band and had little idea of the context. “Is this a re-enactment,” asked an American tourist. Perhaps she should have been directed to the Wishing Tree.

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