By Gerry Regan / The Wild Geese
Mineola, N.Y. -- Fifty years after JFK’s visit to Ireland and his assassination months later, Irish Americans stand at the apex of their prestige, prosperity and influence, Irish Consul General Noel Kilkenny told a crowd of about 150 during a noon ceremony marking the 97th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising. He noted, as well, referring to a recitation of the Easter Proclamation earlier in the ceremony, that Irish America’s influence, while growing, was not new to students of Irish history, borne out in the Proclamation’s reference to the Rising’s support “by her exiled children in America.”
Right, participants from the greatest generation of Irish Americans. All photos by Gerry Regan
In his remarks, delivered on Easter Monday, the New York-based Kilkenny went on to express concern about Irish America’s influence on Irish affairs 30 years in the future. [View a videotaped excerpt from Noel Kilkenny's remarks.] He noted that the United States has 60 million residents of German ancestry, “broadly invisible but for their family names,” and expressed concern that 40 million Irish Americans may in a generation succumb to the same fate.
”It is very important that we pass on our heritage, and the values of that heritage to the next generation,” the consul general stated. Kilkenny asked those present to remain engaged in Irish culture and to support Ireland as it overcomes years of fateful and ill-advised spending beyond its means, and works to become, by the Rising’s centennial, what he called “the best small country in Europe,” the best place in Europe “to raise families” and “to grow old.”
The ceremony suggested just how far Irish republicanism has come since the Good Friday Agreement. Following Kilkenny to the podium, Sinn Fein TD Sean Crowe, representing Dublin South-West in Ireland’s Dail Eireann, praised Irish republicanism, a political brand and philosophy on the rise in Irish politics since the 1998 pact enabled all parties, unionist, nationalist, and republican, in Ireland north and south to move peacefully toward a united Ireland.
Left, a bronze plaque marking Nassau County's "Irish Monument."
The NYPD Pipes and Drums, from the New York City Police Department’s Emerald Society, provided a musical introduction to the ceremony, performing, among other melodies, “A Nation Once Again.” In addition to hearing recitations of the Easter Proclamation and William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Rose Tree,” those present were invited to sing “A Soldier’s Song,” the Irish national anthem, and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The annual event was held at Nassau County’s 34-year-old “Irish Monument,” a “living symbol of our determination to end bigotry and discrimination in Northern Ireland and to support efforts to achieve Peace with Justice in a united Ireland,” according to a news release from the Irish Monument Committee of Nassau County, the event’s organizer. The monument is located in a grove south of the county’s court house.
Right below, a view of the back of Nassau County's commemoration and its 'Irish Monument,' a "living symbol of our determination end bigotry and discrimination in Northern Ireland."
The committee is comprised of various Irish organizations including the Nassau County Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Nassau Police Emerald Society, the Irish American Society of Nassau, Suffolk and Queens, Irish Northern Aid, The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the Irish Americans in Government, the Brehon Law Society of Nassau County, and the Irish Studies Program of Hofstra University. WG
MORE FROM THE WILD GEESE ON THE RISING:
* Dublin, Easter Monday, 1916: 1,700 Take On the British Empire
* Tracing the ‘16 Rising: One Man, One Camera, On Foot
The Rose Tree
By William Butler Yeats
'O WORDS are lightly spoken,'
Said Pearse to Connolly,
'Maybe a breath of politic words
Has withered our Rose Tree;
Or maybe but a wind that blows
Across the bitter sea.'
"It needs to be but watered,'
James Connolly replied,
"To make the green come out again
And spread on every side,
And shake the blossom from the bud
To be the garden's pride.'
"But where can we draw water,'
Said Pearse to Connolly,
"When all the wells are parched away?
O plain as plain can be
There's nothing but our own red blood
Can make a right Rose Tree.'