Commencing in 2012, the Decade of Centenaries programme, commemorates in a non-partisan, inclusive and respectful manner, significant events that took place in Ireland during the period 1912 to 1922. The programme complements annual commemorations such as the Easter Rising.
Encompassing the different traditions of the island of Ireland, commemoration events will include the Signing of the Ulster Covenant, the 1913 Lockout, the foundation of the Irish Volunteers, Home Rule, the 1916 Rising, the War of Independence, and anniversaries relating to World War 1, including Gallipoli and the Somme.
In the context of the Decade of Centenaries, the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust retains liaison with the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, the Expert Advisory Group, and other appropriate Government Departments, agencies and organisations.
On 12 December, 2012, the Trust hosted a seminar in Collins Barracks, providing an effective forum for the exchange of information. The attendance included representatives from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the National Museum of Ireland, and representatives from a range of associations including the Connaught Rangers Association, the Cork Western Front Association, the 18th Foot – Royal Irish Regiment Association 1684 – 1922, Leinster Regiment Association, Royal Dublin Fusiliers Association, Royal Munster Fusiliers Association, Dublin and Belfast representatives of the Western Front Association, Royal British Legion, Kerry County Museum, and the Air Corps Museum.
Following on from its successful Seminar in December 2012, the Trust maintains its momentum of supporting the Decade of Centenaries concept by identifying appropriate activities, which it will sponsor, commensurate with the Trust’s objectives.
The Trust remains proactive in ensuring that it is represented at appropriate annual commemorations associated with the Decade of Centenaries.
In addition, in the unlikely event that the commemoration of a particular military event is not being considered at local or national level, the Trust will make a submission to the appropriate authorities.
In December 2013, a dedicated Web Site for the Decade of Centenaries was launched by the Government: www.decadeofcentenaries.com
The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is overseeing the Decade of Centenaries. Under its Minister, an All-Party Working Group, with equal representation from all parties in the Oireachtas, as well as independents, manages the comprehensive commemorative programme.
In 2012, the Taoiseach established an Expert Advisory Group on Commemorations in order to provide advice on historical matters relating to the Decade of Centenaries. The Group consists of professional historians. Under the Chair of Dr Maurice Manning, Chancellor of National University of Ireland, the Group consults with academic, community, voluntary groups and members of the public to ensure that significant events are commemorated in a measured, reflective and appropriate manner.
Initial Statement – Expert Advisory Group
The first task of the Group was to submit an “overview statement to inform the development and delivery of the commemorative programme for the period 2012 to 2016. The statement addressed issues such as context, authenticity, proportionality, shared heritage, thematic issues, and research.
The Group, noting that the large spectrum of interested groups will result in an extensive number of commemorative events, recognised that official Government initiatives should be restricted in number, and relate to key events or developments in any year.
In its statement, the Advisory Group advised that it will consult with scholars, universities, educational and cultural bodies, local historical associations and committees. The Group is engaged in a nationwide public consultation process, the next meeting is scheduled for 27 January in Thurles.
Likely Events – Decade of Centenaries
For discussion purposes, the Advisory Group produced an iterative list of likely events up to 2023, grouped under the following five headings: Legal and Constitutional, Social, Economics and Communications, Political and Military.
In the Political and Military section, twenty eight events were listed for discussion. These include:
- 1913. Foundation of Ulster Volunteer Force, Dublin Lockout, Irish Volunteers
- 1914. Larne Gunrunning, Howth Gunrunning, First World War (August 1914)
- 1915. Gallipoli Campaign
- 1916. Easter Rising in Dublin, First Battle of the Somme
- 1917. Sinn Féin Ard Fheis
- 1918. Sinking of the Leinster, General Election with new franchise including women
- 1919. First meeting of Dáil Éireann
- 1920. Death of Terence MacSwiney, Execution of Kevin Barry, Burning of Cork
- 1921: Northern Ireland Government and Parliament
- 1921: Truce, Anglo-Irish Treaty
- 1922: Destruction of the Public Record Office, Outbreak of Civil War, Free State Constitution, including equal voting rights for women
- 1923: IRA ‘Dump arms’ order, effectively ending Civil War, Ireland joins the League of Nations
During 2013, events included the National Day of Commemoration, the Lockout, Armistice Sunday, Taoiseach’s Attendance in Enniskillen Commemoration and the Foundation of the Volunteers.
The following is a sample of events which are envisaged to be commemorated during 2014; The Curragh Mutiny, Comman na mBan Commemorations, The National Day of Commemoration, Ceremony of Remembrance and Wreath Laying – Islandbridge, Home Rule, Larne Gunrunning, Howth Gunrunning, Dedication of the Cross of Sacrifice, Declaration of WWI.