To remember everything is a form of madness
While this book has so far focused on the commemoration of the First World War in Ireland in the context of a variety of narratives of identity, this chapter directly addresses the efforts made to commemorate one of those competing narratives — the Easter Rebellion of 1916. Although the Rising interrupted the tempo of the First World War in terms of recruitment and subsequent public remembrance of the war, it also generated its own set of commemorative questions in the years after the establishment of the Irish Free State. If the rebellion was staged literally on the streets of the capital city in 1916, the performance of public remembrance took place in a host of different arenas and the interpretation attached to these public acts of ritual changed with time. This chapter will examine a few moments in the trajectory of remembrance to highlight some of the key spatial and iconographic motifs employed to generate a national narrative of commemoration. If sites established to the memory of the First World War, at times, represented points of political and cultural controversy, the Easter rebellion also provoked mixed reactions among pro-Treaty and anti-Treaty factions within Ireland.
On Easter Sunday in 1991, seventy-five years after what Yeats described as the birth of a ‘terrible beauty’, the Irish state commemorated the 1916 Rising at a ceremony at the General Post Office in Dublin.