I would like to specifically acknowledge the key role played by Churches of all traditions, especially in the Diocese of Clogher, in the peace process. – Minister Heather Humphreys
The Diocese of Clogher, through its energetic and innovative youth ministry organisation Clogher don Óige, last week staged three impressive performances which in a reflective way reviewed the journey of all the people of these parts over the past one hundred years and set out some of the challenges for the period ahead. All of this was done in the light of the Christian faith and the experiences of people, past and present.
The performances were held in Saint Macartan’s Cathedral, Monaghan, on Tuesday and Wednesday night and in Saint Michael’s church, Enniskillen on Friday night. All events were very well attended.
On Tuesday evening, Bishop Liam MacDaid, Bishop of Clogher, who initiated the events, spoke of the value of such a reflective production. He linked it to the reality of the Christian journey of life as celebrated recently in the paschal mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. He was particularly fulsome in his praise of the Clogher don Óige team and their leader, Father Martin O’Reilly. Father Martin was the producer of the event and will be stepping down shortly from his Clogher don Óige role after thirteen years. Bishop MacDaid also paid tribute to the part played by the fundraisers for the event in every parish and also the support from Rita Shah and the Shabra Charity group.
The special guest on Wednesday evening was the Minister for Arts, Heritage & the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys T.D. The Minister spoke on the value of such a celebration in terms of reflecting and remembering the events not just of 1916 but of the past one hundred years. She said that the commemorations belong to all people. She went on to acknowledge the key role played by Churches of all traditions, especially in the Diocese of Clogher, in the peace process. She said: “Clogher Diocese was one of those most affected by partition, with its territory being divided on an almost fifty-fifty basis. Even some parishes, such as Clones and Roslea, were divided by the border. These territorial divisions mirrored divisions of identity, based mostly along religious lines. And yet, despite these divisions, people came to co-exist.” Please see the full text of the Minister’s address below.
Responding to the Minister’s address, the Diocesan Secretary and Chancellor, Mgr Joe McGuinness, thanked Ms Humphreys for her presence and her interest in the project. He also placed the reflection which the event evoked against the ongoing challenges that the world faces today and how Christian faith can make a valuable contribution to the dialogue that is necessary between faith and culture.
Speaking at the Enniskillen event on Friday night, Monsignor Peter O’Reilly PP VG, congratulated Bishop MacDaid on his vision and initiative in taking up the challenge to reflect. He saw the event in the context of the ongoing journey of all the Churches in Enniskillen working together. He was joined by the Dean of Saint Macartan’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) in Enniskillen, Dean Kenny Hall, who also addressed the gathering, expressing his thanks for the invitation and pledging to continue on the journey of working together to making the kingdom of Christ a reality in our communities and our lives. An apology for inability to attend was received from the Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher, Dr John McDowell.
Speaking also in Enniskillen, Bishop MacDaid said that the reflection was one for the whole Christian Church and that the ecumenical journey in which we are all involved will continue. He also said that the event and its organisation was a clear statement of the capacity of the diocese to achieve results.
The event was a mix of archival film, beginning with the 1916 Rising and the Battle of the Somme, through the War of Independence and Civil War, the creation of the two States on the island of Ireland and the reality of people’s lives during the decades that followed. The various political, social and religious events from the late 1960s through to today were also reflected. All of this was accompanied by song, dance and lighting and sound effects.
The lighting and sound was by Vincent Macklin, Panic Hire. Niall McNally of Cast Ministries took charge of the vast amount of film editing, Karla Holden was in charge of choreography, and Emily McMeel was in charge of music. Thanks is also expressed to the parish teams of Saint Macartan’s Cathedral and Saint Michael’s church in Enniskillen for their outstanding help in hosting the events. Thanks also to the fundraising committee, chaired by Brendán Ó Dufaigh.
Notes to Editors
- These events took place on Tuesday and Wednesday 28 and 29 March, and on Friday 1 April.
- Text of Minister Heather Humphreys’ Address
Monsignor McGuinness, Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening.
Thank you so much for inviting me to this wonderful and reflective event this evening and indeed for the very warm welcome you have given me. Bishop Liam MacDaid understandably is not able to be here this evening, but I would like to specifically thank him for his leadership in providing a space to not just celebrate but reflect on the events of the past one hundred years as part of this Centenary year.
Thank you also to Clogher don Óige, under the leadership of the project co-ordinator Father Martin O’Reilly, and others involved in the background, for such a wonderful presentation of our past, our present and your vision of the future. Congratulations on a magnificent performance by the young artists and also the excellent way you presented in a thought provoking way emotive issues of the last 100 years.
We are emerging from what was an incredible weekend of commemorations. In truth, the events in Dublin and elsewhere surpassed all of my expectations. The Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme has been an enormous team effort, and it has been a huge privilege for me to lead the Government programme.
Seeing all of the arms of the State parade on O’Connell Street on Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of people proudly looking on, made all of our hard work worthwhile.
The centenary programme has been rooted in respectful commemoration. I was also very anxious that it would be inclusive and would reach out to the people of Ireland and I was very clear that it did not belong to any political party or to any particular group, it belonged to the Irish people and it is the Citizens Commemorations. And while Easter Weekend was always going to be the focal point of the year long programme, many more events and indeed many more discussions are planned for the rest of 2016.
As well as looking back, we must look forward.
This centenary year is an opportunity to not just remember our past, but to re-imagine our future. Which brings me to tonight’s event, the theme of which is: ‘Who do people say we are?’ It is a question that the early Christians asked themselves. Indeed it is a question that in the Gospels, Jesus put to his disciples about himself. Self-identity is so central to our being.
And yet, as we know too well, questions of identity can be problematic, challenging and fraught with difficulty.
The events of Easter 1916 were about people making a bold and determined stand for who they were and making a statement about who the Irish people were. In the years that followed the Rising, the issue of national identity and Irish identity was a complicated and often fractured one. The path to independence and beyond was not an easy one. We know that all too well in this part of the country.
Clogher Diocese was one of those most affected by partition, with its territory being divided on an almost fifty-fifty basis. Even some parishes, such as Clones and Roslea, were divided by the border. These territorial divisions mirrored divisions of identity, based mostly along religious lines. And yet, despite these divisions, people came to co-exist.
Despite decades of division, segregation, discrimination, violence and too many deaths, it is the people of the border area and beyond who have triumphed. Because it is the people who championed the peace process, and who demanded a better way of life for all, regardless of creed or identity.
I would like to specifically acknowledge the key role played by Churches of all traditions, especially in the Diocese of Clogher, in the peace process.
The visit by Queen Elizabeth to Enniskillen in 2012, when she attended both Saint Macartan’s Church of Ireland Cathedral and Saint Michael’s Catholic Church was historic for many reasons.
It was also a symbol of a journey that has been made and that is ongoing.
There is still so much more to be done. I see 2016, our centenary year, as a journey of discovery, that will lead to greater understanding and tolerance. As we examine and explore our past, all narratives must be heard.
As I said at a Conference organised by the Presbyterian Church in Belfast last January, historians and academics are playing a very important role by providing thought-provoking insights into 1916 Rising, World War I and other events of the period.
The Churches need to do the same. You in Clogher Diocese have answered that call.
I often say that it is not my job to interpret history, it is my job to commemorate it. The reality is that 1916 Rising and World War I happened. As we look back on these events from 100 years hence, we should never seek to distort or dilute them. We cannot rewrite history. But we can certainly learn from it, and learn from each other by respecting different narratives, different beliefs and different viewpoints. Now, in 2016, the Irish people can proudly say that difference does not lead to division.
I would like to again commend the Diocese for hosting this event this evening, and indeed for encouraging discussion and debate, which is such an important contribution to our centenary year.
Go raibh maith agaibh.
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