Minister Josepha Madigan T.D. announces the State programme to mark the centenary of the death of John Redmond on 6th March 2018

The Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D., today (6 March 2018) announced details of the State programme commemorating the centenary of the death of John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, on 6th March 2018.

The 1916 Rising and its aftermath changed the Irish political landscape forever.  Redmond’s continued support for the British war effort and the perceived severe response of the British Government to those who took part in the Rising saw public sympathies move away from Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party towards the revolutionary movement.  This culminated in the General Election of 14th December 1918, which decimated the Irish Parliamentary Party and became a defining moment in the shift from parliamentary based nationalism to nationalism grounded in revolution.  The meeting of the first Dáil was convened on 21st January 1919 and the democratic, parliamentary approach ultimately prevailed.

Redmond’s complex legacy was, until now, often misunderstood and overshadowed, being inextricably linked with the British war effort in World War I.  Redmond was also instrumental in the transfer of landownership to Irish tenant farmers – his involvement in the negotiations with Irish landlord leaders, resulted in the 1903 Wyndham Land Act and his political legacy endures today.

The Decade of Centenaries has provided us with new opportunities to explore and reflect upon the complex narratives surrounding Ireland’s participation in World War I and we can now consider our shared history in an inclusive and respectful manner, affording key participants in the events of that time such as John Redmond, their rightful place in history.

One hundred years after Redmond’s death, this State Centenary Programme commemorates the contribution of John Redmond to the emerging Irish State and the achievements of the Irish Parliamentary Party, under his leadership for 18 years.  The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has worked in partnership with various stakeholders, including the National University of Ireland; the Royal Irish Academy; the School of History in UCD; Waterford City and County Council; and Wexford County Council to develop fitting and inclusive programme, grounded in primary historical sources.

This programme comprises a rich and diverse range of ceremonial, cultural, historical and educational activities in Dublin, Wexford, Waterford and Athlone.

One of the highlights is a free, one-day symposium, – John Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party: A Centenary Symposium, which takes place in the National Gallery of Ireland on 6th March, co-organised by the National University of Ireland, the Royal Irish Academy, the School of History, UCD, and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.  Redmond’s parliamentary career spanned 37 years and it is very fitting that the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl T.D. will deliver the opening address, in which he will reflect upon 100 years of the Irish parliamentary tradition.

Following the symposium, a Royal Irish Academy Discourse will take place, at which An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D. will launch Alvin Jackson’s publication, Judging Redmond and Carson: comparative Irish lives. 

A civic commemoration will also take place at John’s Street Graveyard in Wexford, led by Wexford County Council and supported by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The National Library’s digitisation project – Towards a Republic – will give a new generation free, online access to the personal papers of John Redmond.  These rich archival sources and the various debates and discussions that they provoke, will give us a new insight into the individual historical events of that time and an opportunity to examine how each impacted upon the next.

Speaking today, Minister Madigan said:

‘John Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party influenced some of the most transformative events that shaped the history of Ireland and the modern world, during a period of immense political, social and cultural change.  I would like to commend Dr Maurice Manning and all of our partners for their vision and ambition in supporting the development of this very fitting commemorative programme to acknowledge John Redmond’s contribution to the emerging Irish State, which spanned a parliamentary career of 37 years’. 

Our popular, collective Irish memory has never embraced Redmond as one of Ireland’s mythic father figures on par with the ultimately unsuccessful previous leaders of the constitutional nationalist movement, such as Daniel O’Connell and Charles Stewart Parnell.  In his graveside elegy for Redmond, John Dillon expressed the hope that…

Time will do justice to his work and to his statesmanship and all the people of Ireland, even those who today misunderstand him, will, in time to come, understand the greatness of his life and of his work and of the unselfishness of his career’… 

‘One hundred years after his death, we have a new opportunity to commemorate and re-assess John Redmond’s life and complex legacy – a legacy that has, until now, often been misunderstood and overshadowed.  By re-examining our complex past and how individual events of 100 years ago each impacted upon the next, we give key participants in the events of that time, such as John Redmond, their rightful place in history’. 

Dr Maurice Manning, Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, added:

‘For over forty years, the Irish Party led and spoke for nationalist Ireland, in the process achieving major and lasting reforms and laying the foundations of our enduring parliamentary democracy.  Its history is an essential part of the history of modern Ireland’.

Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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