Work has started in the United States on its first 1916 Garden of Remembrance to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

Congressman Richard Neal broke the ground on the development which will be located in Springfield, Massachusetts.

The sod-turning happened ahead of a trip to New York by Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan who is to announce full plans for commemorations of the 1916 Rising in the US tomorrow.

Over 70 events are planned for the New York region alone to mark the 100th anniversary.

The Massachusetts memorial garden will be completed in May.

The designers say it will feature "seven oak trees in honour of the seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation, a replica in stone from Ireland of the proclamation, and two flag poles permanently displaying the American flag and the Irish Tricolour".

The garden is located within Forest Park, one of the US's largest urban parks spanning 735 acres.

The park has the only other eternal flame honouring John F Kennedy outside of Arlington National Cemetery.

Eamon de Valera also gave a speech on Irish Independence at a rally in 1920 at the nearby Springfield Symphony Hall.

Landscaper Diarmuid Gavin and Senator Mark Daly were involved in developing the park along with the City of Springfield Parks Department.

Congressman Neal, Chairman of the 'Friends of Ireland' Caucus in Congress, said: "This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, a seminal moment in 1916 that led to Irish independence.

"And history reminds us that those who fought for freedom in Ireland were greatly influenced by the leaders of the American Revolution.

"In many respects, our Declaration of Independence served as a template for the Proclamation of the Irish Republic with its call for freedom, equal rights and civil liberties. And Ireland's "exiled children in America" played a pivotal role in the creation of the modern Ireland we know today," he added.

"I am pleased that Springfield is breaking ground of the first memorial garden in America, and I welcome those from western Massachusetts here this morning whose relatives fought for independence in 1916," Mr Neal said.