Easter is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to Irish Republicans it is a high holy day that has very little to do with religion. It is a day to commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916, to mourn those who have been lost during the struggle for Irish freedom, and it is a reminder that the fight for a unified Ireland is unfinished.
You can’t really be an Irish historian without studying at least a little bit about Bloody Sunday. Many have devoted their whole lives to what happened on that day, forty-five years ago. Many books have been written, movies and documentaries have been filmed and the controversy surrounding the massacre that occurred in Derry is still going strong. The families that were torn apart that fateful Sunday still relive it every day and they all have questions that still need answers. Until the day they finally get justice, I think it is their voices that need to be heard, not mine.
One hundred years ago today, Roger Casement was executed at Pentonville Prison in London. In record time, Casement had gone from being a world-renowned humanitarian and a Knight in high standing to a treasonous pervert who was shunned by many of those he once called friends. He was hanged on August 3rd, 1916, for his failed attempt to bring German support and weaponry to Ireland for the Easter Rising and for other “crimes” he committed in his pursuit for Irish freedom.
Casement’s knightly betrayal embarrassed the English government and they were not content to simply kill him.They stripped him of his knighthood and thoroughly destroyed his reputation before making him face the noose. He was the only man associated with the Rising who was killed in this fashion and the only one who died on foreign soil. This was an added insult to someone who had devoted many years of his life to Ireland and its fight for independence.
As someone who has been a long term student of Irish history, I have been looking forward to the centennial celebration for years and years. At first, I thought I’d have to watch it from afar – and I still may yet have to do that, but the goal is to spend about a month wandering through the whole of the Emerald Isle before culminating in Dublin for the 100 year commemoration of the Easter Rising. I have been devouring any information I can find on the planned celebrations for years and have found it all woefully lacking. I still can’t even get an answer about whether it is going to be planned for Easter, which is incredibly early in 2016, or if it will wait until April 24th.
I started paying attention to what the people in charge were and were not saying. Modern politicians seem to be more concerned with whether or not the British royalty will show up than they are about planning something awesome for their own people. Given that they owe their positions to the rebellious men and women of 1916 (also before and since) you would think that they’d be getting ready to honor them.