Melbourne to play prominent role in Ireland’s Easter Rising 1916 commemorations

Illustration of Melbourne in the 1900s

The far reaching repercussions of Ireland’s historic 1916 Easter Rising, and specifically its effect on Australia during a time of war, will be explored as State Library Victoria and the University of Melbourne partner to commemorate the centenary of this seminal moment in Irish history.

The 1916 Easter Rising was a six-day uprising in Dublin that is now recognised as a most pivotal moment in the Irish struggle for independence from England.

It would be followed by a succession of historic events in Irish history including the War of Independence, the Irish Civil War and the Partition of Ireland.

Together State Library Victoria and the University of Melbourne lead Melbourne’s prominent role in the global commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, with a public exhibition, academic conference, panel discussion and documentary screening providing fascinating insights into the impact the Rising had in Ireland and on the Irish around the world.

“With nearly 7 million Australians from Irish heritage our histories are intertwined. We will exhibit unique collections that reveal how keenly the Irish Easter Rising was felt in Australia and the effect those events abroad had on our own history,” said State Library Victoria Chief Executive Officer Kate Torney.

“We are honoured to partner with the State Library Victoria and to work with the Irish Government to provide both a rich academic and public stream of discussion on a transformative period in Irish history. Ireland and Australia share a deep historical lineage and as Australia’s leading university we are proud to play a role in this remarkable global programme of events,” said University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis.

The University of Melbourne will host a two-day international academic conference including regarded keynote speakers Dr Fearghal McGarry, Queens University Belfast, Dr Roisin Higgins, Teeside University and Dr Guy Beiner, Ben-Gurion University. The conference will occur on 7-8 April at Newman College.

“Ireland’s Easter Rising impacted not just its own country but across the globe and in particular here in Australia. We have convened some of the leading academic minds on this historical period to provide insight into a remarkable period in Irish, World and Australian history,” said Professor Gillian Russell, the Gerry Higgins Chair in Irish Studies at the University of Melbourne.

These activities are supported by the Irish Government through its Centenary Programme.

Ambassador of Ireland to Australia Noel White observed the fitting nature for the city of Melbourne to mark this historic event.

“It is particularly appropriate that we mark this occasion in Melbourne, a city with deep and enduring links with Ireland and the Irish. It is a privilege and a matter of considerable pride that two such prestigious institutions as the University of Melbourne and the State Library Victoria have come together to host these thought-provoking events which will reflect on and celebrate our shared history.”

A documentary which focuses on the impact of Ireland’s Easter Rising 1916 produced by independent documentary maker Eoin Hahessy will also be screened.