Huge crowds converge on Dublin to mark Easter Rising centenary
Hundreds of thousands of people have lined the streets of Dublin for a huge military parade to mark 100 years since the Easter Rising against British rule.
In a centrepiece event as part of a year of commemorations marking one of the most defining episodes of Irish history, President Michael D Higgins laid a wreath outside the General Post Office, the former rebel headquarters.
The Easter Rising was a military failure for the revolutionaries, but it ultimately led to the War of Independence and the creation of the Irish Republic.
Acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny invited the Head of State to lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Ireland. “In this centenary year, we honour the memory of those who died in 1916 with the respect and the dignity that is their due and we cherish 100 years later the principles and the ideal contained in our Proclamation for which they fought,” he said.
A minute’s silence was ended by a muffled drumbeat before The Last Post was sounded and the Tricolour, which flew at half-mast throughout the wreath-laying, was hoisted to full mast.
As the Army No 1 band played Reveille and national anthem Amhran na bhFiann, six Aer Corps aircraft flew 700 feet above the capital’s main thoroughfare bellowing smoke in the green, white and orange colours of the national flag.
Despite forecasted rain the sun shone on the crowds packed into the city centre throughout.
After Captain Peter Kelleher re-enacted the reading of the Proclamation, spontaneous applause erupted from onlookers.
Former Presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson, former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, as well as Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and British ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott were among the dignitaries.
“To be here today and see hundreds of thousands of people on O’Connell Street remembering the sacrifices of those who led the Rising was, I think, a very gratifying moment,” said Mr McGuinness.
The event was followed by a huge hours-long military parade in honour of the revolutionaries, including 3,722 Defence Forces personnel marching in front of military vehicles.
Meanwhile, a service of remembrance organised by the Royal British Legion took place in Greyabbey, Co Down, yesterday to remember the 116 soldiers who died during the Easter Rising.
Following a parade, a wreath was laid on the grave of Sandy McClelland, of the Royal Irish Rifles.
He was 18 years old when he was killed in Dublin on April 27, 1916.