With two and a half weeks of school holidays, Jonathan deBurca Butler suggests now is a great time to take a trip to Dublin where a plethora of 1916-inspired exhibitions and events are taking place.
YOU can see the hype around the city already. Everywhere in the capital there are posters for this 1916 event or that Rising commemoration and the glut of events will peak over the Easter holidays.
If you’re bringing a family with you, separating the wheat from the chaff is paramount. Let’s face it. The last thing children want to do on their school holidays is go back to school and learn about some pig-headed gangly ‘long-fella’ with milk-bottle glasses and a funny sounding name; unless of course you can make it fun. While we may not offer a Michael Collins milkshake or a 1916 themed quasar (though that would be cool) there are a few things on in the capital over the weekend that should keep all the family happy.
1916 Freedom Tour
A great way to get a quick rundown of the 1916 story while seeing some of the nicest parts of the city, the Freedom Tour runs four times a day from Merrion Square. The company have converted an old army truck and kitted it out with screens showing period footage. The tour aims to tell the story of the conflict through the eyes of combatants on both sides and includes testimonies and stories of ordinary citizens caught up in the fighting. There’s also a Dublin Rising 1916-2016 Street View Tour with narration from Colin Farrell, and this specially curated street view tour can be enjoyed by anyone with a PC, tablet or smartphone.
The Freedom Tour is nice for tired feet but at €12 per child and €20 per adult it is a little expensive. Family tickets available for €60.Runs 10am, 12am, 2pm, 4pm. www.1916tour.ie
GPO Witness History
The GPO Witness History visitor attraction looks fantastic. It is a highly interactive and immersive exhibition. It also explains what happened in the aftermath of the rebellion and how Ireland developed as a result. Visitors will experience the events from an eyewitness perspective of active participants on both sides and bystanders caught in the middle. There is plenty to see, hear and touch. Due to ceremonial events (see below), the attraction doesn’t open until the second week of the Easter holidays, March 29.
Revolution 1916, Ambassador, O’Connell St
If you can’t hang on the extra day then Revolution 1916 ticks many of the boxes. Over 500 artefacts are on display, including an original Proclamation and the door handle from the GPO. Tickets start at €12. www.ambassadordublin.com
The Glasnevin Cemetery Experience is well worth the short bus ride from the city centre. Sadly, legendary tour guide Shane MacThomáis, is no longer with us but he trained a wealth of talented guides who manage to bring the dead alive.
Many of the 1916 leaders are buried here and their individual stories are fascinating. Inside, the museum offers an interactive history of the cemetery.
Prices start at €7.20 for a public tour and a museum visit. Tours Monday to Friday: 11.30am & 2.30pm Saturday & Sunday: 10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm, 1.30pm & 2.30pm. www.glasnevintrust.ie
Easter Sunday at the GPO
If you’re into your ceremonial stuff, then Easter Sunday outside the GPO might be for you.
There will be wreath laying ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance before a march past by members of the Defence Forces, and a fly past by the Air Corps. But the highlight will be the reading of the Proclamation outside the GPO — spine tingling stuff.
Time has yet to be confirmed. www.visitdublin.com.
Proclaiming a Republic: The 1916 Rising National Museum of Ireland, Collins’ Barracks
Probably best left until last, purely because much of it is based on realia. Many of the items featured here belonged to those involved in the Rising, so, in order to keep the kids happy, it would be useful to know at least a little about the main protagonists before you go along. If you can get them to buy into it, there is some fascinating stuff on display here including the watch used by Countess Markievicz to time the rebel despatches, Thomas Clarke’s razor, a crucifix perforated by a stray bullet and a cricket bat that died for Ireland — you’ll see if you go. www.museum.ie
Dublin Fire Brigade and the 1916 Rising Exhibition Vaults, City Hall
Like some of the other exhibitions and events, this exhibition focuses on the lesser known heroes of the Easter week. Fire engines and ambulance crews were on continuous duty throughout the week working in dangerous conditions and this photo exhibition helps to tell their story. Includes some staggering photos of the destruction. Free of charge. www.dublincity.ie
The Plough and the Stars, Abbey Theatre
Sean O’Casey’s play is 90 years old and is returning to the theatre that first hosted to it. It is unlikely there will be riots this time around but if ever there was a play to get you thinking about contemporary attitudes to Easter week then this is it. Tickets from €13. www.abbeytheatre.ie
Other 1916 inspired trips to consider this year:
Kilmainham Gaol: Already the number one Dublin destination on TripAdvisor thanks to its brilliant tour guides, the 19th century gaol — where most of the leaders of the Rising were executed — is getting a new visitor centre, bookshop and cafe. The surrounding area has also been given a facelift — it’s never looked better.
Imagining Ireland: From April 2, Dublin’s National Concert Hall will host a series of seven themed nights to mark 100 years of Ireland since the Rising, with concerts exploring emigration and the diaspora. Participants include Roseanne Cash, Paul Brady, Glen Hansard and Colm Tóibín.
Roger Casement exhibition: From April 21. Banna Strand, near Tralee, will be forever associated with the Rising thanks to Roger Casement’s failed attempt to land arms there. Now, the Kerry County Museum will host an exhibition on the revolutionary leader, tracing his journey from servant to the Crown to the gallows at Pentonville Prison.
Ravelóid Music Festival: June 10 and 11. All the artists including Delorentos and The Riptide Movement, will perform as gaeilge. To be held in the grounds of Ardgillan Castle, Balbriggan, Dublin.