Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys launched Trinity College Dublin’s programme of events for next year’s centennial commemoration of the 1916 rising this morning. The launch took place in the Long Room of the Old Library.
The programme, which will involve lectures, exhibitions, films and book launches, will run throughout next year.
The function of these events, as described by Professor Eunan O’Halpin, director of the Centre for Irish Contemporary History, is to “bring in people to connect with…everything that we do.” He said: “Commemoration won’t stop in May 2016… Exploration of the Irish Revolution won’t stop in May 2016… We should continue to do what Trinity has always done, which is to look at the past, remember the past, explore the past and interrogate the past.”
Speaking about next year’s commemoration events, Humphreys described the country’s third level institutions as “focal points” for discussion, debate and analysis of the events leading up to and following the Easter Rising. She invited members of the college and the public alike to “ask the awkward questions” involving our history.
She described Trinity as a “hub of activity” for the commemorations, not only because it is situated in the centre of the nation’s capital city, and was thus greatly affected by the events of the uprising, but also because of its extensive collection of original documents pertaining to the period.
She commended College’s ‘Trinity and the Rising’ pamphlet, released this morning, describing it as “extensive and exciting.”
Vice Provost Linda Hogan and Humphreys both spoke of the centennial commemorations as opportunities to look back on our past with a fresh perspective and “maturity” on the “complexity of the motives, the interests, the actions of these extraordinary people and events of that year.”
In relation to Trinity’s role in commemorating the Rising, Hogan stated: “Trinity… has always been right at the centre of this debate of interpretation.” O’Halpin also emphasised Trinity’s involvement both at the time of the rising – as a site of battle, a refuge for the wounded and a temporary burial ground, among other functions – and its ongoing role of research.
Illustrating the conflicting attitudes of the period, Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist, directed the audience’s attention to Trinity’s original copy of the 1916 proclamation of independence, which is believed to have been torn down from the doors of the GPO.
One of the highlights of the programme is the new open online course ‘Irish Lives in War and Revolution’ offered by Trinity and curated by Professor Ciarán Brady and Professor Anne Dolan of the Department of History. Having been run in 2014 and 2015 to huge success, the course will be relaunched for Trinity’s programme of events next year, providing an open-source of in-depth knowledge on the events that shaped modern Ireland during the period of 1912-1923.