Today's ceremony will mark centenary of death of 'father of the nation' Arthur Griffith

Today's ceremony will mark centenary of death of 'father of the nation' Arthur Griffith

Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins at the 1921 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis. They died within days of each other the following year, with Griffith's centenary being marked on August 12, 2022. Picture: Walshe/Getty

A remembrance ceremony marking the centenary of the death of Arthur Griffith will take place at Leinster House today.

Mr Griffith, the founder of the Sinn Féin party, led the delegation which signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December 1921 and has been described as the “father of the nation”.

His death and the death of Michael Collins just ten days later on August 22, 1922, was a double tragedy to befall the fledgling independent Irish state then engulfed in civil war.

Arthur Griffith and Maud Griffith arriving in London for Treaty negotiations in October 1921. Little did they know that just ten months later he would be dead. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty
Arthur Griffith and Maud Griffith arriving in London for Treaty negotiations in October 1921. Little did they know that just ten months later he would be dead. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty

Today’s event will include a wreath-laying ceremony in the garden of Leinster House, with descendants of Mr Griffith participating.

The event is being coordinated by Independent Waterford TD Matt Shanahan who responded to a number of public calls for the anniversary date to be marked in Leinster House.

Mr Shanahan sought the permission of the Ceann Comhairle and the Clerk of the Dáil to convene a private gathering and says he is grateful for the permission he received to hold this event.

“Considering that Arthur Griffith is one of three gigantic historical figures honoured by the installation of the cenotaph in Leinster House gardens, I felt it fitting that we mark the centenary there and I am delighted that some of Arthur Griffith's family members will be in attendance to participate,” Mr Shanahan told the Irish Examiner.

“I wish also to express my gratitude to those people who for years have championed the memory and legacy of Arthur Griffith, those who have recorded and detailed the historical record and those who took the time and effort to canvass deputies such as myself to ensure that Griffth’s legacy is not diminished or forgotten by our State,” he said.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has led Fine Gael tributes to Mr Griffith who, he said, made an enormous contribution to the cause of Irish freedom, democracy, and independence: 

He was a leader of thought and, among the founders of the Irish State, he was truly the father of them all.

“He was a man who devoted himself and ultimately gave his health and his life to Irish freedom,” Mr Varadkar said

"He was a tireless, thoughtful, and relentlessly determined leader, who literally worked himself to death to free Ireland." 

 Independent Waterford TD Matt Shanahan spearheaded the move to have Griffith's passing marked in Leinster House one hundred years after his death. File picture: Larry Cummins
Independent Waterford TD Matt Shanahan spearheaded the move to have Griffith's passing marked in Leinster House one hundred years after his death. File picture: Larry Cummins

Mr Varadkar said many thought he was an impossible dreamer but he never lost heart, never wavered in his belief.

“He built a political movement through his writings and newspapers and stepped up for his country when we needed him the most, making difficult decisions, always in what he believed was in the best interests of the Irish people,” he said.

“He was deeply concerned with the economic aspects of Irish independence and believed that an independent Ireland could be transformed into a modern, prosperous state.

“His early death truly was "a calamity for Ireland" as described by Michael Collins, who of course joined him in that desperate fate shortly after. 

"Today we remember him as one of the brave dreamers of the Irish State, a man with the vision for what Ireland could be and the courage and determination to work to make it happen.”

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