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NY group gathering to commemorate First Dáil

Mary Courtney will be performing at the January 21 gathering in O’Lunney’s

By Irish Echo Staff

Members of the New York Irish community are poised to commemorate the founding of Ireland’s first democratically elected national assembly, Dáil Éireann, and the declaration of Irish Independence one hundred years ago this month.

Events in the New York area, said a release from organizers, are focused around a new booklet by the First Dáil Commemoration Committee titled “1919 And Today, A Legacy to Fulfill.”

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An event was held on January 8 at Rocky Sullivan’s in Red Hook, Brooklyn emphasizing the role of the Irish language in the national movement while the main event is scheduled for Monday, January 21 the actual 100th anniversary date of the declaration of Irish Independence.

This will be held at O’Lunney’s Times Square Pub and will focus on the role of women in this period of Irish history.

The event at O’Lunney’s will include performances by musicians Donie Carroll of Cork and Mary Courtney of Kerry.

Courtney has a new CD, “Freedom’s Pioneers,” which features songs about this period of Irish history.

The events are being organized by the First Dáil Commemoration Committee, an ad hoc group formed to bring the public’s attention to the one hundredth anniversary of the First Dáil and of the Declaration of Independence.

According to Tom Abernethy, one of the organizers, the purpose of the events are two-fold.

One is to pay tribute to the women and men of this period of the Irish War of Independence and secondly to address what the committee calls the unfulfilled legacy of 1919.

According to the release, the organizers are emphasizing what they consider the democratic mandate given by the Irish electorate in the General Election of 1918 (the first in which Irish women had a limited franchise) for an all-Ireland Republic.

They also argue that not enough focus has been placed on the decision by the British government, in September 1919, to outlaw the Dáil and then its decision the following year to partition Ireland into a 26 county Free State and the six county Northern Ireland.

They additionally argue that both of these actions by the British government disregarded the democratic will of the Irish people and are the root cause of the decades of conflict that followed.

The group looks at current controversies such as the lack of an Irish Language Act in the North and the tension and uncertainty over the effect of Brexit on Ireland as just some of the ongoing consequences of the unwillingness of the British government to respect the will of the Irish people in the period of 1918-1921.

Another who is involved in the events, said the release, is John Fletcher, 31.

Although he has Irish roots going back several generations, and is currently learning Irish, his interest in Irish affairs also grows out of an interest in what he sees as part of a wider struggles for justice taking place around the world.

Fletcher is among a group of younger activists who are today taking an interest in Ireland.

Those interested in more information about the events can email or go on Facebook under First Dail NYC.

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