State to honour the role of women from 1916 to 2016 in special Ireland 2016 event on International Women’s Day
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, will today (Tuesday) welcome women from across all sectors of Irish society, as well as relatives of those involved in 1916, to the Royal Hospital Kilmainham for a special Ireland 2016 event to highlight the role of women in the events of 1916 on International Women’s Day.
Attendees will include representatives from academia, the Oireachtas, legal and the judiciary, the arts, sports and community sectors, as well as representatives from activist groups. President Michael D. Higgins will give a keynote address, outlining the diverse and often boundary-breaking roles played by women in the Rising as well as the impact of the post 1916 conservatism on the role of women in Irish society. The President’s speech will be followed by an excerpt from a new music commission by Simon O’Connor, performed by the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, dedicated to the widows of those who lost their lives in 1916.
There will also be a short performance by a local community group of a specially devised piece entitled Flames, not Flowers. Viewing areas are being provided in the courtyard of the Royal Hospital to accommodate members of the public.
President Michael D. Higgins will also view the specially commissioned Living for Ireland quilt, each panel of which was designed by a women’s activist, to commemorate the 77 women held in Richmond Barracks in 1916.
Speaking in advance of the event, Minister Humphreys said:
“In the decades that followed the Rising, the role played by women in bringing about our independence was diluted, often deliberately. The stories of those such as Margaret Skinnider and Dr Kathleen Lynn were overlooked and diminished over time. New academic research over the last 10 years, led by women like Sinéad McCoole, has shed new light on the experience of and contribution of women in the events of 1916.
“Recognising the role of women is a central plank of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. One hundred years on from the Rising, we have a unique opportunity to honour the women who put their lives on the line at time when they didn’t even have the vote. Given the opportunities afforded to young women today, it is hard to fully appreciate the bravery of women like Countess Markievicz, who broke the mould in a relentless pursuit for fairness and equality.
“It is particularly fitting that the State pays tribute to the women of the Rising, and the achievements of Irish women at home and abroad over the last 100 years, on International Women’s Day. This is a moment when we, as a nation, remember the enormous contribution made by generations of Irish women, not just in the events of 1916, but right through to the Ireland of today.”