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Friday 15 December 2017

'It's fantastic, it's great to see so many embracing history'

1916

Christina and Siobhan Lynam with Ciara Dupont All Dublin at the Easter Sunday 1916 Commemorations in Dublin.
Christina and Siobhan Lynam with Ciara Dupont All Dublin at the Easter Sunday 1916 Commemorations in Dublin.

Families, tourists and history buffs crowded into the city centre to cheer on the thousands of Defence Force members marching as part of the 1916 Rising centenary.

With tricolours waving, spectators clambered onto post boxes and railings to catch a glimpse of the largest military parade in Irish history.

It was a family affair for Brian Yeates, from Drimnagh.

"The children have been enjoying it, so that's what matters," he said as he carried his young daughter Charlie (9) on his shoulders. "Or at least I hope they are! It's a great sight anyway to see these men and women get the recognition they deserve.

"It's been fantastic to see how people have embraced the 1916 celebrations. For so long it was a slice of our history that was forgotten," he said.

Famine

"We talk an awful lot about the Famine, about the emigration, and then everything that came after it - the War of Independence and, of course, The Troubles.

"But there was little about the Easter Rising, and how it shifted public opinion towards supporting those fighting against British rule."

Spectators from around the world flocked to Dublin for the Rising celebrations.

Mary and Ciaran Byrne have returned to Ireland from New York to partake in the spectacle.

"We have spent four years planning to come over because Irish history is such a significant part of our lives," Mary (56) said.

"We left Cork 30 years ago, and watching the parade made us realise how much we want to return home."

The centenary parade had an extra special meaning for those living in Dublin city.

"I grew up just across from where the soldiers are marching now [Cuffe Street], so I've heard about the Rising all my life due to the fighting on Bishop Street," Stephanie O'Shaughnessy (54) said.

"For the parade to start here means a lot to us."

Stephanie was delighted to see people turn out in their droves to celebrate the historic occasion.

"I think the significance of 1916 has been lost on the younger generation. Those of us who are older remember it more because we were closer to it.

"We knew people who lived though it or heard the stories from their children, or our parents. But it's great to see so many people here today - embracing our history."

Samantha Nugent (49), from Cuffe Street, spoke of her own family connection to the Rising.

"My grandmother was a sergeant in Cumann na mBan and my own mum didn't know she had fought and shot a gun.

"She never told her what she did because no one spoke about it at the time."

Delighted

Caoimhe Considine (3), from Dublin 8, was delighted to "see the army men" according to her dad, Caoimhan Considine.

"We had a really good time. Everyone is in such good spirits. I just wished they'd opened up O'Connell Street completely to the public. It would have made things much livelier," he said.

Up bright and early to get a good spot yesterday, the Daly family were out in force as the parade marched by.

"We packed six of us and a ladder into the car just after 7:30am," said mum Roisin Daly.

"We're up from Naas town in Kildare, but I'm Dublin through and through. We left so early to avoid the traffic, though of course we had to have the Easter egg hunt before we left," she said as she looked at her children Brandon (6) and Mark (2). "They wouldn't let us leave the house otherwise."

Staring at the parade as it marched by, Roisin said the effort gone into the 1916 Rising centenary had made her "proud".

Despite all the impressive military armaments on display, Gerry Deane, from the Liberties, said his favourite moment of the parade was the onlookers themselves.

"It was a smashing atmosphere and not a cross word was had," he told the Herald.

"Everyone was in great humour, which is always fantastic to see."

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