It is one hundred years since men and women in Ireland dreamed of a just Ireland, an Ireland independent and free.
It is one hundred years since men and women in Ireland made a brave or foolhardy decision, ( depending on your politics) that they were willing to die rather than accept the staus quo.
We are the grandchildren and the great grandchildren of those men and women.
We have inherited an Ireland both beautiful and ugly.
We have inherited a rich and meaningful culture;
Our community-minded customs,
Our willingness to contribute more per head of population to famine relief than any other country in the world.
We have also inherited secrets and the wounding legacy of those secrets;
children batterd in Industrial schools,
girls and women locked away in labour camps called laundries,
babies stolen from their mothers and trafficked to America,
men and women who fought to protect us from Nazism whose sacrifice was never honoured in their lifetime,
millions of men and women who went without in countries far from home to support large families back home or the buying of a family farm.
women who went in secret to England to have abortions.
families decimated by alcoholism,
limited choises for women in terms of their own reproductive health,
a mind-boggling National debt,
a country where dishonourable men and women are not held accountable in law by reason of their wealth or social standing,
and so much more.
After the Civl War, many of our grandparents and great grandparents took on a vow of silence. They saw only one way forward, that we should 'leave sleeping dogs lie', forget the past and move on and away from their wounds. With hindsight we can understand how they felt this was neccessary in order to rebuild our country. Our grandparents' silence bought them safety from revenge violence and killings. However, that silence, that secrecy, has permeated our whole culture and made it possible for a new generation to be made into victims of the most painful injustice.
In the midst of all the inevitable rhetoric of 2016, I believe that we have an opportunity, an opportunity to undo the violence of silence. As we piece together a more balanced picture of 1916, not least in terms of the role of women, we also have the opportunity to ask ourselves some searching questions and take significant action.
Is the Ireland we have right now the Ireland we want?
What kind of Ireland do we want?
What small thing can each one of us do to build a better Ireland?
We have an opportunity to open up our minds and to find and use our voices.
Together, we can make 2016 more than a wonderful pageant.
Together, we can make 2016 count.
Comments are welcome below.
If this article made you think about our future you might also like to read;
I love my country but I am not blind
and Truth No. 2
An afternoon among the women poem
Growing up in a white world
When people say genealogy is boring
Anger and Truth
Where do you come from?
The House on an Irish Hillside book review
Mammies for Mariage Equality
Aw go on, say YES
Homeless in Ireland
When wide sky opens poem
I love my work
Celtic New Year
This small house
Rhythm & Rest poem
The Hidden Self
The Lonely Road
Kerry Pride 2013
Letting the Light in after Loss
Letting go is hard
Pick up the phone
Her name was not Magdalene
Do what you love doing!
My small granny
Praise the child and boil the dishcloths
My invisible brother Michael
I don't want to be Irish anymore
Alone on Valentine's Day
I love my country but I am not blind
Truth no. 2
How we tell the Truth
From Clare to here
Mother's Day is bittersweet
I will not be part of that
No Blacks No Dogs No Irish
Thank you for the days
Baby Marion Howe
My Irish Identity
When my Mam was dying
Violence against women
Take back your power
Draw the line
My small granny and other stories