Robert Emmet is remembered for his speech from the dock. He is also remembered in the nation’s capital each year by virtue of a statue in his honor and a ceremony where it stands.
The Washington, D.C. chapter of the Irish American Unity Conference recently held its annual Robert Emmett commemoration ceremony at the Emmett statue on Massachusetts Avenue in memory of the Irish patriot’s life and death.
After his failed uprising, Emmett was executed on September 20, 1803 following a one-day trial the day before, with no appeal or plea for mercy allowed.
The Commemoration ceremony started with a box accordion rendition of “Fanny Power,” Turlough O’Carolan’s lament to lost love that Emmett would have been known well.
“Chapter members then took turns reading Emmett’s speech from the dock, considered by some as the most powerful speech ever delivered in the cause of Irish freedom,” a statement from the IAUC said.
This was followed by readings from Washington Irving’s and Patrick Pearse’s writings on Emmett, several poems appropriate to the occasion by Thomas Moore and Oscar Wilde, and selections from “A 1916 Anthology.” The occasion concluded with several lively jigs and reels.