The Funeral of Donovan O’Rossa

O'Donovan Rossa Leaving City Hall Pic: Dublin City Council

O’Donovan Rossa Leaving City Hall
Pic: Dublin City Council

Dublin City Council’s Decade of Commemorations continues this year by marking the 100th anniversary of the funeral of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.

On Saturday, President Michael D. Higgins laid a wreath at the grave of the Fenian leader and revolutionary who lay in state for four days in City Hall following his death in 1916. To mark the occasion, City Hall is hosting an exhibition of images, newspaper clippings and other ephemera from Pearse Street’s Dublin City Library and Archive until the end of October. This will include footage of the funeral from 1959 documentary Mise Éire, showing City Hall draped in black to mark O’Donovan Rossa’s passing.

Dublin City Library and Archive’s Historian-in-Residence, Dr Brian Hanley explains the significance of the historical event: “The O’Donovan Rossa funeral was a key moment in the IRB’s preparations for the Rising, helping turn a dead Fenian into a live inspiration for revolution. On hearing of O’Donovan Rossa’s death, Tom Clarke exclaimed to his wife Kathleen, ‘Had he chosen a time to die, he could not have picked a better time!’ The IRB stage-managed what became one of Dublin’s largest political funerals and one of its central effects was to turn Pádraig Pearse, hitherto best known as a cultural writer, into a central figure in republicanism. Pearse’s oration (he had been advised by Clarke to make it as ‘hot as hell’) marked his arrival as a leader.”

Dublin Festival of History will take part in the commemorations, with historian Shane Kenna presenting a lecture on “The life and afterlife of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa: a study in dissension”. The lecture is free to attend and will take place in City Hall on Monday, September 28 at 1.10pm. No booking is required.

By Aimée Mac Leod