So I went to Songs of Freedom, the tribute to the 1916 Easter Rising at the Irish American Heritage Center Sunday with best fest buddy Tom.
Tom noticed the back of the program, which he thought I typed, given my day job at a suburban newspaper historically known for its typos. It was A Soldier’s Song written in Irish – which he knew, and I knew he knew, scooby, doobie, doo.
It’s always good to start off an afternoon marking a squashed rebellion with a laugh – and a stamp on your hand of some Disney Princess on your hand to get into the show.
“I think it’s the one from Frozen,” Tom said.
For purposes of this story, I’m going to say it was Constance Gore Booth, who was among the rebels 100 years ago. Thank you internet, for that information.
Anyway, we headed into the auditorium, if not for a history lesson, for dramatic readings from the likes of Josephine Craven and Eamonn McDonagh and music from a slew of acts pulling out quite a few numbers Wolfe Tones fans know.
Songs specifically about the Easter Rising included Kathy Cowan performing Tri-Colored Ribbon and the Sullivan Brothers taking on Foggy Dew.
The song choices weren’t strictly tied to that moment in Ireland in 1916.
Other eras covered included The Chancey Brothers take on The Patriot Game, which is set during the IRA’s border campaign of the 1950s; a Chicago Irish super-group singalong (Chancey, Larkin and Moran, Dooley and Sullivan Brothers, but not the Doobies, Jeff Ward, Jimmy Keane and Jimmy Moore) to the The Broad Black Brimmer, set in the 1920s; and a mournful version of The Fields of Athenry, which is set during the Great Famine, featured Kathy Cowan, Jim Sullivan and the Chanceys.
Prior and post the concert I have been reading a bit about the Easter Rising.
SAT answer choices include:
A) A foibled Fenian fable.
B) A naive, romantic misstep that was part and parcel of its time.
C) A comedy of errors.
D) An inspiration for future heros and some super villains.
E) The messy making of martyrs.
F) Another rip in the fabric of British colonialism.
G) A sort of Velvet Underground moment in history – that is is what like the band whose influence became bigger than the band actually was.
H) A terrible beauty.
I) All or some of the above.
Anyway, below are some links I found so you can pass the test.
Here’s a condensed version of what Easter Rising was – replete with a link to an essay that covers, among other topics, how the rebellion inspired Irish writers, including Joyce and Yeats:
This piece touches how, for better and worse, the Easter Rising, shaped worldwide struggles and how the British made martyrs out of the Irish rebels, turning the tide of history:
This one discusses the Irish influence on the struggle for independence in India:
This link is to a Notre Dame project, a documentary on the Easter Rising, narrated by Liam Neeson, which has played on PBS affiliates:
Some fast facts about the rising:
“What is most universal and of world-historical significance within Irish republicanism” claims this piece:
More on the influence of the Easter Rising:
The uprising also inspired some black leaders of the era in the United States:
Here’s a link to a film about the uprising, A Terrible Beauty:
And this one is an essay about Yeat’s classic poem, Easter 1916: