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Uncritical take on 1916 Rising by schools very concerning

By Nelson McCausland

Published 10/03/2016

Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015
The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade Pictured the Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade as it makes its way through west Belfast to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly during The Easter Rising parade which makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 Republican Sinn Fein parade at Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is Niall ? Donnghaile during the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is Lord Mayor of Belfast Arder Carson during the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is Lord Mayor of Belfast Arder Carson during the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is Gerry Kelly duringthe Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade Pictured the Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade as it makes its way through west Belfast to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade Pictured the Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade as it makes its way through west Belfast to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade Pictured the Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade as it makes its way through west Belfast to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade Pictured the Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade as it makes its way through west Belfast to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade Pictured the Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade as it makes its way through west Belfast to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade Pictured the Irish Republican Socialist Movement Easter Commemoration Parade as it makes its way through west Belfast to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Picture - Kevin Scott / Presseye Sunday 5th April 2015 - Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast Pictured is the Main Easter commemoration Parade in West Belfast that made its way from Beechmount Avenue to Milltown Cemetery Picture Credit - Kevin Scott / Presseye
Pacemaker Press 5/4/2015 The Easter Rising parade makes it's way along the Falls Road to Milltown cemetary this afternoon on the 1916 uprising anniversary. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Last Saturday night performing arts students from Colaiste Feirste, the Irish-medium secondary school in west Belfast, staged an Irish language play about the 1916 Easter rebellion in Dublin.

The new production by Maire McNally was entitled 1916 and was premiered by the pupils in the Roddy McCorley Social Club, a republican social club on the Glen Road.


It reflected on the role of the seven republicans who signed the Proclamation of an Irish Republic and then led the rebellion. It also highlighted the role of female republicans such as Constance Markievicz.

Afterwards there was a buffet and music by The Rising Of The Moon band and tickets for the night, which cost £5, were available from the school or from An Culturlann, the Irish language centre on the Falls Road.

The Rising Of The Moon are a band which specialises in Irish music, including Irish rebel music. They are obviously popular in some circles and have performed at Rebel Sunday in the Rock Bar.

The play by the school pupils and the associated entertainment were part of the annual Eddie Keenan Memorial Festival, which is based around the Roddy McCorley Club.

It has been running for several years and was named after a veteran republican who was interned as a member of the IRA in the 1940s in both Northern Ireland and the Free State.

Keenan, who was also an Irish language enthusiast, died in Belfast in 2009 and was given a republican funeral.

There was extensive publicity for the play and this featured two of the pupils dressed in period Irish Volunteer uniforms, with the male pupil holding what was meant to represent a rifle.

I haven't seen the play and have no desire to see it, but if it was part of a republican festival and was performed in a republican social club, it probably gave a republican perspective on the rebels and the rebellion.

Down through the years I have attended many school plays in controlled schools and even some in maintained schools, but this is something very different.

I think most people will see this as an Irish-medium secondary school endorsing and affirming an Irish republican perspective on the 1916 rebels and it's easy to understand why Sinn Fein is so enthusiastic about Irish-medium schools.

Of course, this is not the only school commemorating the 1916 rebellion in such an uncritical way.

Colaiste Feirste pupils promote their play 1916
Colaiste Feirste pupils promote their play 1916

In the Ardoyne area of north Belfast the children at Holy Cross Boys' Primary School have also been remembering the 1916 Easter rebellion, and vice-principal Chris Donnelly, a republican commentator and a former Sinn Fein election candidate, was interviewed on the BBC news about what was happening in his school.

There the children, who were aged around 10 or 11, were performing a play called The Death Of The O'Rahilly.

This refers to Michael Joseph O'Rahilly, who worked for Sinn Fein and the Gaelic League and was also director of arms to the Irish Volunteers.

One of the pupils taking part in the presentation was dressed as O'Rahilly, a wounded and dying rebel. The little boy was interviewed about his character and said: "He is a soldier fighting for freedom against the British Army."

Those words struck me, because they sounded exactly like those used by IRA apologists in support of the Provisional IRA.

Both productions raise serious questions for the schools concerned. How many of the children will be influenced by the lethal legacy of 1916 republicanism? How many of them will come to imbibe the 1916 "blood sacrifice" blasphemy of Patrick Pearse?

GPO in ruins 1916: Soldiers survey the interior of the post office in Sackville Street, Dublin, during the Easter Rising of 1916. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
GPO in ruins 1916: Soldiers survey the interior of the post office in Sackville Street, Dublin, during the Easter Rising of 1916. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Scene from O'Connell Street in Dublin, during the Easter Rising in 1916
Post Office Ruined...Soldiers inspect the interior of Dublin's General Post Office, viewing the complete destruction of the building after being shelled by the British during the Easter Rising 1916. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)...I
INDH28 Easter Rising 1916: British troops loading vehicle. Published 1920. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
INDH22A Easter Rising 1916: Head office of ITGWU, destroyed following the 1916 Rising. Published 1916. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
Library pic dated 11/05/1916 of the damage wrought on Dublin's General Post Office during the Easter Rising.
INDH22C Easter Rising 1916: Ruins of Freeman Press and Telegraph, 1916. Published 1916. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
Easter Rising:Anniversary/Standard bearers head the parade into Milltown Cemetery, Falls Road, BELFAST, for the graveside ceremony. 12/4/1966
Library filer dated 11/05/1916 of a view of Sackville Street (O'Connell St) and the River Liffey at Eden Quay in Dublin, showing the devastation wrought during the Easter Rising.
GARDEN OF REMEMBERANCE OPENS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN APRIL 1966 IN CELEBRATION OF THE 50YRS ANNIVERSARY OF THE EASTER RISING
INDH29 Easter Rising 1916: British troops searching a car. Published 1920. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
INDH22 Easter Rising 1916: Coliseum theatre, Henry Street, destroyed following the 1916 Rising. Published 1916. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
INDH22B Easter Rising 1916: O'Connell bridge and street, 1916. Published 1916. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
INDH22E Easter Rising 1916: Troops being marched to barracks, 1916. Published 1916. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
INDH26 Easter Rising 1916: Troops searching bread van for arms. Published 1916. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
INDH23 Easter Rising 1916: Troops inspecting car on Mount Street Bridge. Published 1916. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
INDH27 Easter Rising 1916: British troops barricade City Hall. Published 1920. (Part of the NPA/Independent Collection)
Easter Rising:Anniversary/Standard bearers head the parade into Milltown Cemetery, Falls Road, BELFAST, for the graveside ceremony. 12/4/1966

For the Irish-medium schools movement, there is also another question: what does its play tell us about its school and about the Irish language as a "language for all"?

O'Rahilly said of the rebellion: "It is madness, but it is glorious madness." He was right when he said it was "madness".

But he was horribly wrong when he described it as "glorious".

Belfast Telegraph

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