Introductory Remarks by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht at the Second Lecture in the ‘Dublin Lectures’ Series
Ladies and Gentlemen, a dhaoine uaisle,
It is a great privilege to be here with you this evening in the beautiful setting of The Little Museum of Dublin.
As Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, I am always very pleased to lend my support to occasions such as this that remember and acknowledge all those whose lives were touched by the events of the 1916 Easter Rising.
When we reflect on the tumultuous events of Easter 1916, we remember that time as a pivotal chapter in our story, which changed the destiny of the Irish people forever.
2016 will be a year when we commemorate the centenary of the Rising, celebrate our achievements over the last 100 years, and re-imagine our legacy for future generations.
In remembering the dead of 1916, we reflect that every life lost was a tragedy.
As we will shortly hear from Joe Duffy, today we are remembering one special and often forgotten group of victims – the 40 children who perished in the Rising, the youngest of whom was just two years of age.
Many of the children were killed accidentally and caught in the cross-fire.
Today, many lie buried in unmarked graves and, with no direct descendants, their stories would have gone untold but for the invaluable research undertaken by Joe and his determination to make their lives matter.
Children are at the heart of the Government’s ‘Ireland 2016’ Centenary Programme.
The Centenary Programme provides a platform to our children and young people to articulate their views on the events and ideals of 1916.
Through creative and innovative initiatives, children will be guided upon a journey to explore the aspirations and principles of the participants in the Rising.
They will be asked to take a fresh look at the Proclamation and to write a new one for their own school, which reflects the values, hopes and dreams of their generation.
They will also be encouraged to look to the past, tracing a family tree back to 1916 and exploring what life was like during that time in the ‘1916 Ancestry Project’.
Intergenerational and community learning will be central to this journey of discovery and children will be invited to engage with local historical societies, active retirement groups and relatives of those who fought in the Rising as well as exploring the abundance of online and archival material available.
Throughout 2016, special flag ceremonies will be held, at which the National flag will be presented to every school in the country by a member of the Defence Forces.
Drama, film, art and music will all feature prominently in the ‘Youth and Imagination’ strand of the programme so that learning moves from the remote pages of history books to become real, vivid and inviting.
We’ll also hold a dedicated Children’s Day – on April 2nd 2016 – to honour the children who died during the Rising. Children will be consulted in the planning of this day.
We have placed children and young people at the heard of the 2016 Centenary Programme and we will ensure that the 40 young victims who lost their lives so tragically during that tumultuous time are not forgotten.
I would like to thank Kimberley Foy for her kind invitation to be here this evening I would like to wish Joe well with his very moving and thought provoking publication.
I hope that a new generation will now learn of the poignant stories of these children and be as moved by the ending of their brief lives as we shall be this evening.
Go raibh maith agaibh.