A New Ireland Rising was a video project Ruairí created in collaboration with filmmaker Myles O'Reilly and musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire. It is a personal reflection on Ireland's 1916 Rising. On its release in April 2016, the 100th anniversary of the Rising, the video went viral and helped stimulate discussion and debate about Ireland's past, present and future.
A New Ireland Rising
One hundred years ago the 1916 proclamation laid out a bold vision for Ireland. It followed centuries of oppression, the subjugation of our ancient laws, of our language and culture, and of our right to self-determination.
The proclamation envisaged a land of religious and civil liberty, of equal rights and opportunities, and of happiness and prosperity for all.
The women and men who dreamed this nation into being did not envisage that one elite would replace another, that one belief system would help shape our constitution and identity, or that our leaders would sacrifice us to financial institutions and faceless corporations.
They did not foresee the civil war, the partition of the country, continuation of mass youth emigration, the giveaway of natural resources, the surrender of sovereignty and neutrality, the cruelty of industrial schools, Magdalene laundries, psychiatric institutions, and direct provision centres, nor the violence of bloody Sunday and beyond.
They did not foretell how power would continue to be abused through sex, money, politics and privilege in a land where too many of us have been silenced.
The founders of this republic could not have imagined a century on, the neglect of rural Ireland or that vast wealth could co-exist with cold and hungry people who perish on the streets of our cities. Or that 1 in 8 of our children would today live in consistent poverty while too many of our elders die on hospital trolleys or from loneliness and isolation.
With a vision of a country with happiness at its heart, they could not have contemplated a society in which hundreds of people take their own lives each year, or that so many of us would suffer in silence through crippling financial debt, depression, self-harm, the ravages of alcohol and drug abuse and rising levels of anxiety.
Yet this is only half the story. A shadow that longs for light.
There is also the story of our great feats in literature, music and sport, the revival of old customs and arrival of new ones, our success in science, medicine, business and technology, our humanitarian efforts, the hard won peace on our island, the era of marriage equality, and the opening of new doors of expression and of understanding how we see ourselves and the world.
For this is also a story of Ireland’s creativity, Ireland’s courage, Ireland’s resilience, of our refusal to give up hope that change is possible.
Battered and bruised as we may be, a new Ireland is rising. This is a time of unraveling the political and the personal, helping reveal to us who we are and the wounds that we carry, offering an opportunity to re-imagine who we want to be.
It comes at a time when the ecological fabric of life on earth hangs in the balance, when millions of refugees flee for their lives while the fog of war, hate and fear hover over us, threatening our safety, our sanity, and a sense of solidarity that reminds us there is only one race, the human race.
It is amid all of this that we are called to disconnect from busyness, from technology, and to reconnect with our true selves, with each other, with nature, and with the spirit of Ériu, from whom Ireland gets its name.
We must stand together, love together, and create together - for whatever our beliefs, our background and abilities, it is community that can heal us, inspire us, uplift us, and empower us to be whoever we want to be.
It is time to be our own heroes, and believe that this small beautiful Atlantic island can be everything we dream it can be. A country of citizen power and real democracy. A country with decent housing, healthcare and access to justice, to education, a vibrant place of ideas, arts and innovation, of economic and social equality that values the well-being of our language, our heritage, our people and our planet.
We stand at a threshold of magnificent possibility. We face major challenges but so many of the limitations to our freedom exist in our own minds. They linger in pools of fear that hold us back saying we’re not good enough, or that we’re not powerful enough.
Well, enough! Enough of the self-doubt and shame, enough victim-hood, enough deference and denial, and enough holding back your own brilliance. There has been too much dying for Ireland, and not enough living. Commemorate the past yes, but let’s seize the present. From the breakdown comes our breakthrough. No matter what storms have hit us, we must push on people, push on while also remembering to rest and renew.
Make your own proclamation. Launch your own rising. Create your own emancipation manifesto, live your own revolution that is based on following your dreams, not someone else’s.
There is no strength without unity so let us rise together. For now is a time to awaken our consciousness and our country, a time to begin a new history, manifest a new hope, and awaken the spirit of freedom in the hills and rivers, and in the hearts, minds and soul of the Irish nation.