As we prepare for the 100th anniversary of one of the most seminal moments in Irish history, the 1916 Rising, the Donegal Democrat has been working on a four-part series to mark the 'Rising' and to highlight Donegal, north Leitrim and north Sligo links with it.
Next Thursday will see the Democrat produce the first in that four-part series of our 1916 commemoration broadsheet supplements.
The use of broadsheet layout will bring many of our readers back to the not so distant past, when this newspaper was in that format.
The supplements will feature newspapers of the time that were local to our area of circulation, in particular, the Ballyshannon-based Vindicator newspaper.
The Donegal Democrat, which was founded three years after the 1916 Rising, can link its foundation to the events of 1916 and its birth in 1919, led by John Downey and some of his print colleagues, was spawned by the political events of the time.
Many of the articles over the four weeks have been put together for us by well known local historians and commentators, in particular noted historian Anthony Begley and his Donegal Historical Society colleague, Sean Beattie.
The role played by Coláiste Uladh will be examined by Dr Joseph Kelly, contributions also from Vincent Breslin from Gaoth Dobhair and in week two we will reproduce a 1966 article written for the Donegal Historical Society Annual of 1966 by Joe Sweeney, who fought in the GPO alongside Pearse.
Next week we will offer readers an insight into conditions for people living in Donegal in 1916 and in particular, the conditions pertaining in rural Donegal as opposed to the urban centres, such as Letterkenny.
We have been very fortunate to get permission from Donegal County Council to reproduce the excellent research and photography they produced for their recent history and heritage education pack, which is entitled: “County Donegal in 1916: from the Edge”.
The 1916 period was a very challenging time for many who lived in this county, many, many families had loved ones fighting in the First World War and for some the events in Dublin in April 1916 left them torn.
Attitudes changed rapidly when news of the rebellion emerged, but initially, for many, there was little support for what had happened, although this quickly changed and it’s only in the months and years after 1916, and in particular when news of the execution of the leaders of the 'Rising', becomes common knowledge, that we see a surge in support for what happened in the GPO, Boland’s Mills and elsewhere.
For Democrat readers the role of Kiltyclogher’s Sean MacDiarmada is hugely relevant, as most of our readers would be familiar enough with the beautiful north Leitrim village which interacts with Donegal in many respects in a greater way than it does with Leitrim or neighbouring Sligo.
In our first issue next Thursday, we look at the man that was Sean MacDiarmada and how he became involved and the role he played which lead to him being one of the signatories of The Proclamation.
His famous quote, before his execution: "I feel happiness the like of which I have never experienced. I die that the Irish nation might live!” leads off the article.
Over four weeks we will feature old pages from The Vindicator newspaper, and many important historical images from Donegal in 1916 and beyond.
Be sure to get your copy next Thursday of the Donegal Democrat for the first in this four-part series.
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