O’Donovan Rossa: Cork’s Commemorative Programme
Given that Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa’s name is indelibly linked with his native west Cork area, it was agreed that a commemorative programme should be put together in those areas most associated with his memory - Skibbereen, Rosscarbery, Reenascreena and Clonakilty. To this end a number of local committees were formed to devise events for their particular locales, with the groups coming together to frame a coherent plan for the region as a whole. The result is an ambitious and diverse programme that mirrors the national 2016 commemorative programme, and which, in at least one respect, is more wide-ranging than this national programme.
The organisers have also worked closely with a similar group of interested individuals and parties within New York, and with the Glasnevin Trust, to produce a programme that has been co-ordinated between New York, west Cork and Dublin, and which runs from Thursday 11 June (the official opening) until Saturday 1 August (the date of the centenary of O’Donovan Rossa’s burial in Glasnevin).
The programme thus has ceremonial elements - specifically the opening of the renovated O’Donovan Rossa park by President Higgins on 11 June and the state ceremony in Glasnevin on 1 August, which event marks the beginning of the national 2016 commemorative programme; cultural elements, including the launch of a new print by Robert Ballagh of the O’Donovan Rossa graveside scene, a concert by Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, performances of platform dancing and traditional music, and the launch of a new play ‘Rossa’, inspired by the 1945 award winning drama of the same name by Roger McHugh; community events including a GAA tournament, commemorative mass, the unveiling of new and refurbished monuments, exhibitions, book launches; events conducted through the medium of the Irish language that was the milieu in which O’Donovan Rossa was raised, and with an Irish language component to the other events. The programme in New York is reflective of the Diaspora of which O’Donovan Rossa was a member; and a ‘new Irish’ element, with a night-time parade through the streets of Skibbereen, the two themes of which are both the life of O’Donovan Rossa himself, and the commemoration of a protest meeting held in the town in 1863 in support of Poland’s January Uprising of that year - with the participation of a large number of the Polish community in the west Cork area, who will be dressed in traditional costume, playing traditional instruments, singing patriotic ballads and hymns, and carrying placards and banners from the period.
All events are free to the public, and the organisers would be delighted to welcome visitors from beyond the west Cork area for what should be several enjoyable, and instructive, weeks of history!