From: The Irish Times
President Michael D Higgins says Rising was ‘stunningly ambitious act of imagination’
Thousands of secondary school pupils have been presented with copies of the national flag and the Proclamation at a special ceremony at Croke Park in Dublin in advance of the Easter Rising centenary commemorations.
Every secondary school in the Republic was represented in the stadium yesterday in what was the biggest public event to date to mark the centenary.
The students formed two long lines. One line collected a copy of the Proclamation, while the other the national flag.
Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes, former Irish women’s rugby captain Niamh Briggs and All-Ireland winning Kilkenny hurler Paul Murphy were among the sporting personalities who distributed the flags to the students.
Barnes said it was a proud moment for him both to have received and to distribute the flags.
President Michael D Higgins told the gathering the Rising had been a “stunningly ambitious act of imagination”.
Many of the rebels had been actors and therefore had a sense of the dramatic, the President told the 6,000 students and teachers present.
“It is testament to the enormous success of the Easter Rising in capturing the imagination of the Irish people that the Tricolour flag which, at the time, was little known even among the rebels, rapidly became accepted as the unquestioned symbol of the Irish independence movement,” Mr Higgins said.
Students were told how Thomas Meagher, one of the Young Irelanders, had modified the symbol of revolutionary France to suit the Irish context. It had first been flown in Waterford in 1848.
An actor playing Meagher read his words: “The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between Orange and Green and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood.”