by Fr Richard Ebejer SDB
1916 was a Year that changed Ireland forever. A hundred years on, the significance of the uprising still impacts the new Ireland that emerged from the chain of events that it unleashed.
The younger generation played a significant role in that week of upheaval, and up to 38 children under the age of 16 lost their lives. As the 1916 centenary is marked in various ways, it is the younger generation that will perhaps be impacted most by these celebrations. 15th of March was Proclamation day, and throughout Ireland schools have marked the event in different ways. One particular school has chosen to mark this day in a special manner by remembering the Children of the Uprising.
Larkin Community College is located right in the City centre, only a five minute walk away from the GPO. That means that many of the students’ great-grandparents and families would have lived through the historic events. Larkin School have engaged with the Gaiety School of Acting to create a unique presentation, which they called: THE STAGE IS SET: six days that divided a city.
They wished to hold their memorial presentation in a space that is held as sacred, where they could honour the child-victims. What better place than the local Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, which is a sanctuary of memory, housing hundreds of plaques on benches that bear the memories of loved ones, and is a place of prayer and worship.
Guests were welcomed with a daffodil on arrival, bearing a name of one of the Children of the Rising; the programme opened with a song, and students named the 38 victims. This was followed by a set of three different drama.
In preparing for their presentation, students had delved deeply into the lives of the children and their families of 1916, in particular Joe Duffy’s Book on the Children of the Rising. They created their own imagined stories arising from their reading on the period; the first drama revolved round the life of the youngest victim, 22-month old Christina Caffrey.
The students then explored the life of James Plunkett through a dance sequence that created scenes to remember his story. Students finally took Sean O’Casey from the page to the stage through their enactment of an extract from The Plough and the Stars. In all over sixty students were involved.
Students wanted to connect the Children of the Rising with the vulnerable children of today. They did this by asking for a donation from the audience to the event, to go directly to the Don Bosco Care Homes, which provides a home to children at risk who cannot live with their families anymore.
At the end of the programme, guests were invited to plant their daffodils in the Church’s Memorial Garden, and view an exhibition set up by the students.
There is something sacred about memories; in keeping memories alive we create a sacred space, where we reconnect with ourselves, with our roots and with a higher purpose and hope for the future.