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This beautifully stirring evocation of nationhood and what it is to be Irish was aired by RTÉ, Ireland’s national public service media, earlier this month.
It’s called Centenary: The Proclamation and it celebrates the Proclamation of the Irish Republic 100 years ago in 2016.
The Proclamation was read on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916 from the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin by Patrick Pearse. He, along with compatriots James Connolly, Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Sean MacDermott, Joseph Plunkett and Eamonn Ceannt, were later executed by the then ruling British for trying to secure an independent and free Ireland.
The full text is reproduced below, a magnificent piece of oratory whatever your allegiances or knowledge of history.
The RTE film reproduces the words, but this time uttered sequentially by Irish men, women and children at home and around the world. Take a look – and an especially close one at 2.42 minutes into the film when Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice Chairman Colm McLoughlin (filmed outside the Dubai Duty Free-run Irish Village in Dubai) utters that seminal statement: “We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland.”
You can see the pride and emotion on his face as this great son of Ireland, a champion of all things and people Irish, repeats those words first expressed with such conviction and courage 100 years ago.
[Colm McLoughlin, second from left, with Ireland’s then An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, officially unveils a commissioned work of Irish sculpture entitled, ‘The Session’ at The Irish Village, run by Dubai Duty Free, in 2007]
IRISHMEN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.
Having organised and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organisation, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organisations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.
We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State, and we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades in arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.
The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien Government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.
Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provisional Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.
We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline, and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.