“So how are we going to mark the centenary of 1916? There will be plenty of public debate and discussion all this year, and the more there is, the better. For it should be a genuinely national discussion on as wide a canvas as possible.
I hope it won’t be forgotten, or overlooked, that the truth about Easter 1916 was that it was a deeply spiritual event. Indeed, even though the official Catholic Church disapproved of rebellion, it was a profoundly Catholic event well chronicled in Fearghal McGarry’s magisterial study The Rising – Easter 1916.
As Dr McGarry demonstrates, most of the participants in the 1916 Rising had a spiritual attitude to what they were doing, and many, like Pearse himself, approached it as a deliberately sacrificial event.
Mass and Holy Communion sustained the insurgents, and in the GPO itself, the Rosary was said every hour.
Dr McGarry, an academic at Queen’s University Belfast, has brought a truthful and radical insight into the events of 1916, and we shouldn’t brush aside the values which sustained the men and women of 1916, if we want to see history accurately. Nor should we forget the role of the Capuchin priests and Vincentian nuns who tended the wounded, maimed and dying in the streets of Dublin.
(The artist Muriel Brandt did some wonderful paintings of these nuns, who at that time wore unmistakeable butterfly wimples, caring for street victims: the pictures can be seen at the Crawford Gallery in Cork.)”