herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Dublin shines for the people's party

Brilliant sunshine on a day to remember as 500,000 turn out to mark 1916 events

RTE Radio Presenter Joe Duffy performs an outside broadcast on O’Connell Street, as part of the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising (in partnership with Ireland 2016) celebrations on Easter Monday
RTE Radio Presenter Joe Duffy performs an outside broadcast on O’Connell Street, as part of the RTÉ Reflecting the Rising (in partnership with Ireland 2016) celebrations on Easter Monday

Dublin celebrated like never before as 500,000 people thronged the streets to play their own part in the 1916 Rising centenary commemorations.

Walking tours, wreath-laying ceremonies, live radio broadcasts, a duck procession and a ceili mor were some of the events taking place in the biggest outdoor celebration ever organised by RTE.

With the sun shining and a relaxed Easter weekend atmosphere, the action began from early morning as hundreds of thousands of people made their way into the city centre.

Shooting

Among those enjoying the day was Ann Harrington-Dunne, from Killester. She was joined in St Stephen's Green by her daughter Caola, who was celebrating her fourth birthday.

Ann, who owns the Rainbow Drama School, oversaw a procession of wooden ducks by 20 of her pupils.

"The duck procession is basically about when the British and the Irish were shooting across Stephen's Green at each other, and the park keeper would wave the white flag and the shooting would stop in order for him to feed the ducks," she said.

Isabelle Hogan (5) and six-year-old Kate Slattery, from Artane, were making the most of the sunshine at the city centre celebrations, as was the McKiernan family, from Clondalkin, who were among the 1,200 volunteers who dressed up in period costume.

The Fenlon family, from Co Clare, said they couldn't miss "celebrating such a special and historic event" as they threw themselves into the ceili mor on Earlsfort Terrace.

Across the city, tens of thousands of people gathered outside the GPO, while broadcaster Joe Duffy led bystanders in a special centenary broadcast of Liveline.

"I thought the participation of the crowd was just stunning and they knew so much," he told the Herald.

"We were talking to people as if they were actually involved in the Rising and we didn't plan that, so it was fantastic and I was so proud."

Presenters Mary Kennedy and Anne Cassin turned heads when they stepped out in Edwardian-style dress.

Kennedy was filming for a centenary special of Nationwide.

"It's from the costume department in RTE," she said. "It's actually very comfortable, but that's because she let out the fasteners at the back.

"The Rising events have been spectacular. It was also very moving and very poignant."

RTE head of TV Glen Killane said the celebrations would not have been possible without help.

"It has been a huge collaborative effort with Dublin City Council and the gardai - Ireland 2016 are obviously huge supporters of this and the Office of Public Works," he said.

Ambitious

Mr Killane added that much of RTE TV's content, including drama Rebellion and the Bob Geldof documentary on WB Yeats, would not have been possible without funding from the BBC and Sundance TV.

Jim Jennings, the head of RTE Radio 1, said he had initial concerns that the undertaking was "too ambitious".

"We thought, 'Okay, we can do it', but it expanded a lot and then the Government came to us about three months ago and said they needed more locations so we got organisers in," he said.

Thousands of children were in their element as vintage carousels and trams took over Smithfield, while RTE topped off a historical day with a sold-out concert in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre.

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