1916 & Now

by Ann McMullan

Upon our arrival in Dublin on Friday, September 22, one of my first impressions was the fact that the city and its people are steeped in the history of their country. Evidence of that is seen in the architecture, statuary, commercial business sites, entertainment and more. This year, 2016, is a particularly special moment in time for the residents of Dublin. Throughout this year Dubliners are commemorating the 100-year anniversary of what came to be known as The Easter Rising, an insurrection that was led by Irish republicans who sought to end British rule in Ireland. The timing of this revolt was complicated by the fact the Britain was heavily engaged in the First World War at the same time and many families in Ireland had soldiers fighting for Britain in that war. Initially the rebels did not have a lot of support in Ireland. However, the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising and the British reaction to the rebels helped sway opinion in support of the movement. In 1917 the formation of a broad political movement under the banner of Sinn Féin continued the call for Irish independence. The 26-county Irish Free Sate was established by Treaty in 1922. Six counties in Northern Ireland gained Home Rule but remained part of the United Kingdom.

As we traveled throughout the city, signs bearing the date “1916” could be seen on almost every street. On Sunday morning, 9/25, we were provided a guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol, a jail originally built in Dublin in 1895. Fourteen of the rebels who led the 1916 Easter Rising were executed at Kilmainham Gaol. In recognition of the 1916 uprising there is now a special exhibit titled “1916 Portraits and Lives”, at Kilmainham Gaol that illustrates the events surrounding the Easter Rising. A copy of the weekly Irish Times from April 29 through May 13, 1916, is one of the artifacts on display.

It is fascinating to be among the Irish citizenry who – though steeped in tradition – are major players in today’s technological revolution. In the days ahead the CoSN international delegation will be visiting with political leaders, education ministers, teachers, students and technology industry leaders to learn how this latest “revolution” is impacting teaching and learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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