Irish Council of Churches. Irish Inter-Church Meeting

1916 Centenaries: PCI to hold major conference

Presbyterian Church in Ireland



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Two seminal events in Ireland’s history, the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, will be the focus of a major conference – ‘The Future of Our Past: Remembering and Reassessing 1916’ – to be held in Belfast by the Presbyterian Church in Ireland (PCI) on 21st January.

The Republic of Ireland’s Minister of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, will join former Presbyterian Moderator Dr. Trevor Morrow for the New Year event, who, along with leading academics and commentators, will seek to explore the events of 100 years ago and discuss how they came to exert such a central place in how Ireland views its past and present.

The conference will also look at wider questions around current relationships in Ireland that have been shaped by the events of 1916 and address ways in which conversations about the future can be reformed.

Organised jointly by PCI’s Union Theological College and Council for Church in Society, the Conference is the fifth in the Church in the Public Square series. Along with other events that are taking place to mark both centenaries, College Principal, Very Rev. Professor Stafford Carson, hopes that it will make a positive contribution to the ongoing public debate around both historical events.

“The Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme have been assimilated into the mythology of Irish history and as a result, they have helped us to create conflicting accounts of the past. Both were important historical events in their own right, their significance however, also lies in how both came to be understood as iconic moments in the emergence of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“To aid our discussion and reflections, I am delighted that we have been able to attract such a gifted team of high calibre speakers and responders who will bring their expertise and insight to the Conference. By reflecting on these events, the conference will allow us to position the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme in their historical context and, very importantly, help us to consider their implications for today.

“Indeed, we hope that this conference will help to open up the conversation about how we might work together for the common good in the context of different understandings of the past. Our conference will undoubtedly be an informative and stimulating day, and of special interest to many who are working in local communities still influenced by the memory of past events.”

Looking forward to the event, Heather Humphreys TD, said: 

“Debate and analysis is a very important element of our commemorative programme for 2016, as we reflect on the events of 100 years ago and consider how far this country has come over the last century.”

“I am delighted to be joining this major conference, which will no doubt spark interesting and lively discussions on the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme. A century on, we can look back on both of these events from a modern context, and better explore their impacts on the Ireland of today. By exploring our shared history we can better understand and respect the differing traditions on this island,” she said.

Dr. Fearghal McGarry, reader in Modern Irish History and Professor Keith Jeffery, professor of British History at Queen’s University, will set the historical context of each event and their impact on Irish society at the time.

The conference will hear from the authors and commentators, Dr. Ruth Dudley Edwards and Eamonn Mallie, as they respond to the talks, looking at the long–term political and cultural legacy of both events. Dr. Morrow, who is also a former Presbyterian minister in Lucan, County Dublin, will address the issue of moving forward. Minister Humphreys, who is responsible for co–ordinating the official Easter Rising commemorations and is herself a Presbyterian from County Monaghan, will respond to Dr. Morrow’s talk ‘Moving Forward’.
‘The Future of Our Past: Remembering and Reassessing 1916’ will take place on Thursday, 21st January 2016 (10am–3.30pm) at Assembly Buildings, 2–4 Fisherwick Place, Belfast.
More information and register online here.

Early discounted booking rate ends 21st December 2015.

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