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Easter Uprising's 100th Anniversary Remembered In Pittsburgh

The Garden of Remembrance opened in 1966 to mark the anniversary of the Uprising.

2016 marks the 100th year anniversary of the “Easter Rising”, the pivotal event that led to the establishment of modern-day Ireland.  Artists, teachers and poets organized a revolution in Dublin in protest of British rule which, even though they lost, laid the groundwork for the Irish Revolution and eventually the creation of the Irish Republic.  Those with Irish heritage continue to recognize the date as a significant time for Irish nationalism and celebrate throughout the world.

Sarah McAuliffe-Bellin, co-chair of Pittsburgh 1916 Easter Rising Committee and the 2016 Pittsburgh St. Patrick’s Day parade grand marshal, says the uprising occurred because people in Ireland knew British Parliament would never pass the “Home Rule Act,” allowing for freedom for Ireland to be self-governed within the United Kingdom. 

Once England got involved in World War I, Irish rebels decided to strike.  They began planning in 1914, and chose Easter of 1916 as their day to act.

“The rebellion carried the torch,” McAuliffe-Bellin says. “This was to be that generation’s opportunity to seek to free the bonds of Ireland from Britain.”

McAuliffe-Bellin says their original military failure was inevitable, but their ultimate goal to light a fire for Irish nationalism made the rebellion a success.  

The victory for Irish nationalism did, however, come at a cost.  McAuliffe-Bellin says civilian deaths spanned to a few thousand, far more than the casualties of British soldiers and Irish rebels.

“What these men did was something that should be carried down and acknowledged for their sacrifice,” McAuliffe-Bellin says.

As co-chair for the Pittsburgh 1916 Easter Rising Committee, McAuliffe-Bellin says there will be celebrations for all to enjoy in the city.

Festivities are set for the weekend of April 15-17. It kicks off with a performance by Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre with poetry readings, songs and reenactments.  McAuliffe-Bellin ensures the performances will be a “dramatic event.”

Saturday’s festivities begin with Gaelic Football exhibitions and hurling, and ends with Irish dancing and music.    

Celebrations close out Sunday the 17th with a look at the historical significance of the uprising by renowned Irish author and historian Tim Pat Coogan.

The annual St. Patrick’s Day parade starts Saturday morning at 10 a.m., preceded by mass at 8 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Church in the Strip District.

For more information on the Pittsburgh 1916 Easter Rising Committee, visit http://www.pittsburghremembers1916.com/

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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