1916: 'We serve neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland'

The events of Easter Week 1916 to be commemorated in Dublin this year by not one, but two new parades in as many days. In addition to the Government-financed military event on Easter Sunday, local representatives, trade unionists and political activists are staging a recreation of a march by members of James Connolly's Irish Citizens Army from Liberty Hall to the GPO on Monday, 17 April.


The "pageant" has been organised by independent Dublin city councillor Mick Rafferty, and is to feature not only the march re-enactment but also live entertainment and a performance of the last two acts of Sean O'Casey's play. The Plough and the Stars.

Most of the day's events are to be based in and around Liberty Hall from 2pm onwards. Audience participation is being promoted as a key element. Contributors are asked to perform their own "readings, stories and songs regarding the Rising, with an emphasis on the role of the Citizen's Army, their ideas and principles, in particular the stories of the ordinary man and woman who walked into destiny on that faithful day."

A number of descendents of original members of the Citizen's Army are to take part. It is hoped that a dome designed by leading Irish artist Robert Ballagh, and based on the original Liberty Hall, will adorn the entrance to the trade union offices, along with a replica of an original ICA banner reading: "We serve neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland".

Around 300 members of the Irish Citizen Army took part in the Easter Rising; among them where Connolly, Countess Markievicz and Captain Jack White. The militia was initially founded to provide protection to striking workers during the 1913 lock-out and drew its membership overwhelmingly from the poor districts of Dublin's inner city. The grouping was finally absorbed into the Irish Labour Party in 1935.

Rafferty hopes that the day's events will help reinvigorate interest in the key role of labour activists in the Rebellion 90 years ago. He said: "First of all it is a celebration for people to have a bit of fun. But we also hope that people will remember that tradition of struggle that is as relevant now as it was then. Struggle takes different forms but at the core, on the issues of health, education and housing, it is the same. We once more find a sense of unity of the people around issues rather than leaving it to leaders."

Scott Millar