Cú Chulainn in the GPO, Dublin
Vincent Boland writes:
…In some ways, the climate in which it is being marked could hardly be better. The Good Friday agreement has brought a fragile but enduring peace to Northern Ireland. Political relations between Dublin and Belfast are workmanlike, and between Dublin and London excellent. The Republic has moved past the worst phase of its financial crisis. A big party 18 months hence ought to be a moment to celebrate some good things.
Yet Irish society has emerged from the past six years of hardship more divided than when it entered the period of austerity. As Philip King, a broadcaster and musician, says: “The house [of Ireland] is still standing but it is in very bad shape. The country is psychologically banjaxed.” The 2016 commemorations and those that will follow over the next few years, he suggests, “offer a series of great opportunities to reinvigorate ourselves, to reproclaim Ireland”.
It is doubtful whether anything so ambitious can happen. Between now and Easter 2016, the country will be in election mode – and all the parties want to be on the reviewing podium come the commemorations. That is especially the case for Sinn Féin, the former political wing of the IRA. But all the parties see themselves as the heirs of 1916.
There is a magnificent sculpture in the GPO depicting the dying Cúchulainn, a mythological Irish hero celebrated by both republicans and unionists. Perhaps he will eventually inspire the nation.