Easter is a time of year I usually wish could be fixed to be held in late April. Days that would be warmer as a contrast to the cold of Christmas, and less close to my parent's anniversary. However, it isn't, so I set out to enjoy it as a holiday that is sometimes mid-winter - judging by the bitterly harsh wind that swept across our country for the past few days. When it does fall in April it is a holiday that is the harbinger of Springtime and Summer, long days and warmth that makes me feel luxuriously lazy like a well fed cat. Somewhat like Ms Pounce.
The first indication that things are stirring is the hedge coming into bloom. The roses which have looked like shaven headed convicts all winter now sprout a deep wine growth and the promise of blooms and heady perfume yet to come is dazzling.
Easter in Ireland was somewhat different this year. It is one hundred years since the Easter Rising of 1916. This was Ireland's first attempt to gain her independence and to take the management of her own governance into her own hands. Padraig Pearse, Thomas J Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Eamonn Ceannt, Joseph Plunkett, Sean MacDiarmada and James Connolly were the signatories to the Proclamation of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic in which they declared, at the GPO, the right of the Irish people to the ownership of Ireland, and to the control of the destiny of the Irish, to be sovereign and indefeasible. They pledged their lives to the cause of Irelands freedom, welfare and its right to take its place among the nations of the world.
They paid for this "rebellion" with their lives. Sixteen people were shot in Kilmainham Gaol after the Easter week-end Rising, including the signatories. One of them, James Connolly, was shot whilst tied to a chair having been wounded during the fighting. Their deaths spurred the Irish people on to seek their independence. On Easter Monday, 18 April, 1949, Ireland was declared a formal Republic. Today Ireland stands proudly among the nations of the world. Today, our army is involved in peacekeeping activities wherever there is conflict.
The nation marked the 100th anniversary with a parade through Dublin city and many cultural events; nationally there were parades in every county on Easter Sunday. Fifty years ago I stood with my Mother on O'Connell Street [Sackville Street as it was known in 1916] and watched the 50th anniversary Parade pass by. Unfortunately, this time around arthritis prevented me from going into the city to watch the parade, and we watched it on t.v. St Patrick's day is usually the day people claim pride in being Irish, but Easter Sunday, 2016 was the day when Ireland felt its nationhood with pride. I am proud to be Irish.