Letter: The commemorations of Easter and of the Easter Rising should be separated

A letter from Dr Gerald Morgan:
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Easter Sunday is a moveable feast, but the Easter Rising is a fixed point in Irish history.

From the historical point of view it is at the least misleading if we try to combine them in a single date each year. This is especially the case when there is a large gap between the two. As for example this year when Easter Sunday is 31 March and the Easter Rising is 24 April. The result is that we lose a sense of the historical context of the rising itself, the central event in Ireland in the twentieth century.

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May I suggest a simple solution which may appear radical to some but is not intended to be, namely, that we commemorate Easter Sunday at Easter on whatever date that may fall and reserve the 24 April for the commemoration of the rising.

The key point to the rising is in fact its date. It is an expression of anger by the Irish people of the Gallipoli campaign which led to such a disastrous loss of Irish life. On 25 April 1915 the Gallipoli landings were headed by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and Royal Munster Fusiliers on V beach and on the River Clyde.

On 6 August 1915 the heroic Irish of the newly-formed Irish Tenth Division came ashore at Suvla Bay in support of the offensive at Anzac.

Irish losses, both in the regular army at V beach and among the volunteers of the Tenth Division were catastrophic and unsustainable. I doubt that they could have been tolerable for any small nation.

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Ireland was a grief-stricken nation in 1916 and for many it was a grief that unsurprisingly could not be contained.

The rising might have been borne had the British acted with greater restraint after putting it down on 24-29 April. But the British failed to show the magnanimity that so serious a situation required and in 2024 we still struggle to resolve the divisions that flowed from such political misjudgment.

We need to understand these events better than we do because there is still a pressing necessity to learn from them as we seek reconciliation among us all in 2024, both within Ireland and between Ireland and England.

Dr Gerald Morgan, Dublin 4

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