On the weekend of May 27th-29th, Gort an Choirce will host celebrations for the 1916 centenary, the pinnacle of Coláiste Uladh’s series of commemorative events.
Coláiste Uladh was established in Gort an Choirce in 1906 to help foster the revival of the Irish language and culture taking place countrywide at the time. Central figures in the early days of the college development were also prominent leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916, notably Pádraig Mac Piarais, Joseph Mary Plunkett and Roger Casement.
It is the involvement of these heroic figures that inspired the Coláiste Uladh Commemorative Committee to organise regular cultural and historical events in their honour. The events, held over these past five months, have drawn good turnouts showing a keen interest.
The weekend is preceded by a number of events on Thursday evening. There will be a parade from Gort an Choirce village up to Coláiste Uladh, with a number of stops for street dramas based on Mac Piarais, Plunkett and Casement's time in Cloughaneely. A more solemn event will take place at the college, when school children will read out the proclamation and the national flag will be raised by a notable figure from the locality. Afterwards, at 8pm, Noel Ó Gallchóir will present his widely acclaimed one-man show, “Ó Pheann an Phiarsaigh”.
At 11am on Friday, RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta will broadcast a programme based on the three leaders of the Rising. Gort an Choirce National School will officially open a commemorative garden dedicated to the memory of Roger Casement, a benefactor to the school who often sponsored their school prizes.
There will be two lectures later in the evening, with Dr Seosamh Ó Ceallaigh outlining the three leaders’ involvement with the local area and the College Prof. Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh addressing, “The GAA, the Nationalist Community and the Revolution in Ireland 1913-1923”.
In between those two lectures, Eamonn Ó Cuív, TD, will perform the official opening of the weekend. Mr. Ó Cuiv is committed to the promotion of the Irish language and culture, and was twice appointed Minister of State with responsibility for the Gaeltacht. His grandfather Éamonn de Valera was commander of the Boland’s Mills garrison during the Rising and later, as President of Ireland, he also visited the College.
In lectures during the day on Saturday, Aodán Mac Póilin will describe the Protestant tradition’s connection with Coláiste Uladh; Prof. Nollaig Mac Congail will review the development of the Irish language in Donegal in 1916; and Tomás Mac Síomóin, who resides in Catalonia, will deliberate whether the Rising demonstrated a total failure or whether it represented a half-revolution.
At 7.30pm, Dr Regina Ui Chollatáin will speak on “Ó Chéitinn go Conradh: Gluaiseacht na Gaeilge agus 1916”. Relatives of some of the leaders of 1916 will give accounts on how they had contributed to the Rising and their commitment to the Irish language. A book entitled “Fear na Rosan”, written by Prof. Nollaig Mac Congail about Fionn Mac Cumhaill, a former Coláiste Uladh teacher, will be launched at 8.30pm in Ostán Loch Altan.
In the high point of the weekend, a debate at 9pm will examine possible ways we can continue to implement Pádraig Mac Piarais’ vision of an Ireland Gaelic and free. The debate, “2116, Éire, Saor agus Gaelach: Cén Bealach atá Romhainn?” will provide an opportunity for people to give their own viewpoints, and promises to be a robust and enlightening exchange. In reflecting on the lessons learned over the last hundred years it is hoped that views on the best way forward for our Republic will be expressed.
There will also be music sessions by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí and dramas by school children. The committee extend an open invitation to everybody, from all traditions, to attend and participate in the weekend.
For more information visit www.colaisteuladh.org, email email@example.com or phone 087 2533744.
Pictured: Roger Casement with staff at Coláiste Uladh Ghort an Choirce