On Easter Monday 28th March, three Sixth Year Students, Conor O’Reilly, Stephen Moran and James Morgan accompanied Mr Quinlan to a special gathering of the descendants/relatives of those Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army members who fought in the G.P.O. during the 1916 Rising. Mr Seán O’Connell, president of the Past Pupils Union and his wife were also special guests of honour. This auspicious event took place in the Court Yard of the G.P.O.
It was a privilege for these representatives of St Joseph’s to be invited along by the relatives who were singularly impressed by (i) our lads’ presence at another 1916 commemoration event in St Gabriel’s Hall and (ii) the wonderful commemorative celebration which St Joseph’s hosted for the six schools who had past pupils as participants in the Easter Rising: O’Connell’s, North Brunswick Street, Westland Row, Synge Street and Belvedere College. See HERE
Ms Donna Cooney and Ms Deirdre Nic Eanruig were MCs for the day, with Deirdre doing the introductions in Gaelic. Music on the day was provided by the Communications Workers Union Brass Band in which 2 of Padraig Pearse’s grandnephews play and which is conducted by another grandnephew, Patrick Scarlet.
Fittingly, the Proclamation was read by a grandson of James Connolly, Mr James Connolly Heron. Two commemorative wreaths were laid: one by Deputy Lord Mayor, Mr Nial Ring, whose grandfather and four granduncles fought in the G.P.O. and were also past pupils of St Joseph’s, and the other was laid by a relative of the heroes.
The brass band played a wide selection of traditional pieces, but the highlight was their wonderful rendition of Seán O’Riada’s classic Mise Éire. Mr Gavin Brennan, a relative, provided a wonderfully entertaining interlude on the saxophone.
Our boys, Conor O’Reilly, James Morgan and Stephen Moran read our roll of honour of all the men from St Joseph’s who fought in the G.P.O. A student representative from O’Connell’s read theirs, while the relatives read the rest of the roll call, using the names as given in James Wren’s authoritative text.
Mr. Noel O’Grady, tenor and raconteur sang some songs in memory of the period, as well as leading the gathering in the English version of the National Anthem, The Soldier’s Song, the words of which were written by a past pupil, Mr Peadar Kearney.
The final item on the programme was the reading of a special poem written for the occasion by the poet Theo Dorgan, after which the gathering sang Amhrán na bhFiann, the Irish version of the National Anthem, also translated by another past pupil Mr Liam Ring. The Tenor, Mr Noel O’Grady led the gathering in this rousing chorus to bring a meaningful and moving commemoration to a conclusion.
The Relatives then had a tour of the GPO Witness History Museum, which is well worth a visit for anyone with even a passing interest in history.