• September 16, 2015


As part of the Dublin government’s centenary celebrations a three part television documentary series, ‘1916: The Irish Rebellion’, produced by Notre Dame’s Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, will be broadcast worldwide during the centenary next year. This series, along with a 70-minute feature film version, aims to ‘internationalize the events of Easter Week 1916 and place these events in their proper historical, political and cultural context as the precursor to an independent Irish state and accelerating the disintegration of the British Empire’ – and colonial empires worldwide.

The series, directed by award-winning Irish documentary maker Pat Collins and written by Bríona Nic Dhiarmada, Professor of Irish Research at Notre Dame, will be narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson. Furthermore, the documentary ‘will adhere to a chronological narrative by presenting the historical, political and cultural events of the uprising and the new and lasting relationships amongst the United States, Ireland and Britain that it brought about’. (see related link):


The 70-minute cinematic version of the documentary will be premiered at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on March 16th, 2016, and will be telecast internationally through Irish embassies and consulates to reach the Irish diaspora and widest possible audience. The viewing at the Concert Hall will no doubt be limited to dignitaries and their cronies, which begs the question, what about the Irish public?

The above endeavour is certainly very ambitious or indeed laudable. However, it does raise a few interesting questions: how much Irish language content will there be? Six of the seven signatories to the Proclamation were members of Conradh na Gaelige, the Irish language Organisation. Will this documentary make note of the Long War by Republican groups that led to the questionable and now fragile Peace Process? And finally, will it reiterate the Twenty-Six County state’s, now hollow, commitment to achieving a united Ireland?

An Conradh Ceilteach is also very much concerned with the central role given to Bríona Nic Dhiarmada, who said it was the aim of the project to pull back and view the events of 1916 with a wide lens to see the events not just from an Irish perspective but from the outside – from Europe and the United States. She also stated that undertaking this project was ‘a huge honour and a huge responsibility’ and said it was their hope to examine Ireland’s history and present it to the people anew.

Earlier this year Nic Dhiarmada, produced a documentary entitled ‘An Unfinished Conversation . . .’ on IRA volunteer Mairéad Farrell which was aired on the Irish language television network TG4. Farrell was shot dead by the SAS whilst on active service with two others in Gibraltar in 1988 as part of Margaret Thatcher’s ‘shoot to kill’ policy. It was clear soon after the murders of Farrell and her comrades Sean Savage and Dan McCann that the three were unarmed and posed no threat to the agents of British imperialism who shot them. Nic Dhiarmada’s interpretation attempted to portray Farrell as a ‘product of her environment’, thus diminishing her ideological commitment to republicanism and socialism and concluded that there were two ‘sides’ to the story, depending on which ‘side’ of the conflict one was on. This documentary enraged the Farrell family who claimed that Nic Dhiarmada was an opportunist and a careerist. In light of this documentary the Irish Branch have written to Nic Dhiarmada expressing their concerns.

Text of letter translated from Irish

‘We note that you are producing a documentary entitled ‘The Irish Rebellion’ which is to be aired next year as part of the official state commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising. This documentary is no doubt of the utmost importance and will have a profound effect on the consciousness of the Irish both at home and abroad.

However, having watched the programe which you wrote and produced on the life of Mairéad Farrell that was aired on TG4 a short time ago, we in the Celtic League must express our worry at your central role in this crucial ‘The Irish Rebellion’ project. We therefore write to you to implore you not to attempt to interweave any newly formulated theses into the story of the revolutionary period and the stories of the volunteers who were central to those years. We urge you to remain true to the historical facts and hope you will not give succour to the efforts of the anti-nationalist revisionist cabal by attempting to portray the volunteers of the period as without agency and as mere witless actors in larger historical events. This may have been the case for some of them, but on the whole it is clear that they understood the choices they were making and the implications of those choices’.


Nic Dhiarmada nods her way through an interview with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.


(Submitted by the Irish branch of the Celtic League)


Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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