Reported in the News Letter on April 18, 1949: King’s goodwill message for new Irish republic

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Eire became a republic at midnight.

Messages of good wishes which have been reaching Dublin from many parts of the world include one from the King, as follows: “I send you my sincere good wishes on this day, being well aware of the neighbourly links which hold the people of the Republic of Ireland to close association with my subjects of the United Kingdom.

“I hold in most grateful memory services and sacrifices of the men and women of your country, who rendered gallant assistance to our cause in the recent war, and who made a notable contribution to our victories. I pray that every blessing may be with you today and in the future.”

Eire’s emergence as a 26-county “republic of Ireland” was not signalised in Dublin at one minute past midnight, according to plan. The first gun in the 21-gun salute from O’Connell Bridge was fired three-and-a-half minutes late.

The close of the ceremony also came as an anti-climax to the huge crowd. The first few bars of “A Soldier’s Song” had been played by a military band before the crowd realised it, and the chorus was not taken up properly until the anthem was half over.

Many of the crowd had started to move off home during the ceremony, for only those in the first few ranks had a view of the guns, or of the riflemen, who ended the salute with a feu de joie.

Tricolours were waved here and there in the crowd, but the display of flags from buildings was disappointing.

At one minute after midnight Radio Eireann broadcast the following statement: “These are the first moments of Easter Monday, April 18, 1949. Since midnight, for the first time in history, international recognition has been accorded to the Republic of Ireland. Our listeners will join us in asking God’s blessing on the republic, and in praying that it will not be long until the sovereignty of the republic extends over the whole of our national territory.”