One of the main events in the 1916 centenary calendar in Ireland is Proclamation Day on Tuesday next, 15th March. The Department of Education and Skills has designated the day as Proclamation Day. This has been taken up in schools throughout Cork, Cloyne and Ross. It also coincides with Seachtain na Gaeilge and the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, Dr Paul Colton is planning to visit a number of schools in the Diocese to join in Proclamation Day events.
The Bishop’s visits will start in the far west of the Diocese in St Brendan the Navigator National School, Bantry. ‘Not only is this one of our small rural schools,’ said the Bishop, ‘but their programme for Proclamation Day really captures something of what our nation has become 100 years on from 1916. Their commemoration begins with prayers in Irish, English, Russian, Latvian and Albanian, the birth languages of children at the small school.’
Following visits to a number of other schools, the Bishop will, at the end of the day, return to his own former national school – St Luke’s, Douglas, Cork. He said:
I was here myself as a six year old pupil marking the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, and, with my still vivid memories of that time at school, it seemed right to come back 50 years on to mark the centenary. I remember well the solemn hanging of the Proclamation at the end of the school room and the wall around it being festooned with green, white and orange crepe paper.
In this centenary year, the programme in St Luke’s National School, Douglas will include a medley of songs in Irish and English, the presentation of projects about 1916 and, in particular, about the school as it was in 1916. Both the Proclamation of 1916, and the Proclamation for a New Generation will be read before the flag is raised and the singing of the National Anthem.
All schools throughout the Diocese have created imaginative programmes for Proclamation Day, all of which reflect on the history of events one hundred years ago through talks, displays, competitions, projects, re-enactment, dressing in the clothes of the period, and storytelling. The basic elements of the day are included: the reading of the Proclamation, the raising of the national flag (delivered by the Defence Forces earlier in the year to each school), and singing Amhrán na bhFiann, and also, of course, the reading of the ‘Proclamation for a New Generation’ which each school has written.
In a host of ways the day will be a festival, each school marking it in its own way, including: a ceilí, food from many nations, a fund-raising lunch for Christian Aid, a tin whistle concert, an art display, a local history focus, lessons about the National Flag and protocol in handling and flying it, special school assemblies with prayers of remembrance, recitations in Irish and in English of poems and stories, lots of folk music, and musical instruments of many types, including bagpipes in the Model School in Dunmanway. Desertserges National School is winding back the clocks and recreating itself as a school of the 1916 period. In St Fin Barre’s National School in Cork, some of the pupils will dress up as the 1916 leaders and address the school.
Bishop Colton added:
I am looking forward to touring schools in the Diocese on Tuesday 15th March – Proclamation Day – and also to receiving the ‘Proclamations for a New Generation’ during our Civic Service on St Patrick’s Day in St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork. The Proclamation Day events seem to have captured the imagination of the children here and of school communities. Writing a proclamation for our own time is an innovative and challenging way of engaging the spirit and imagination of us all in reflecting on what our nation is today and what we hope it will become.
In Cork, Cloyne and Ross, representatives from the schools will bring the ‘Proclamations for a New Generation’ to St Fin Barre’s Cathedral and, during the Civic Service of St Patrick’s Day, will present them. They will be displayed in the Cathedral, as the work of the children of the Diocese in the centenary year, throughout the Easter season. In honour of this centenary year, after the Service on St Patrick’s Day, the children who take part, together with their parents/guardians, have also been invited by the Bishop and Mrs Susan Colton to be the guests of honour with the Lord Mayor of Cork and the other distinguished guests from the State, and the City and County of Cork, at a private reception at the Bishop’s Palace.