Friday 1 April 2016

Reporting the Rising: A Church of Ireland Perspective

The Representative Church Body Library (RCBL) Archive of the Month (for both April and May) marks the Easter Rising of 1916, as seen through the lens of a special edition of the Church of Ireland Gazette.

With publication falling on a Friday, the weekly newspaper has been published almost every Friday since October 1859, the only exception occuring 100 years ago this month for the edition scheduled for Friday 28 April.

The opening excerpt of the Church of Ireland
Gazette for 28th April-5th May 1916
Although ‘all editorial arrangements were made for publication in Easter Week’, an editorial note explained how ‘… we were compelled … to suspend publication for that week’, the paper being ‘unavoidably postponed pending the restoration of the electrical current’ supplying its printed machinery. Indeed, the paper’s premises, located (until the 1960s) at number 61 Middle Abbey Street, had a remarkable escape from the fire which devastated the Sackville Street area, and was the last building on that side of the street to be saved – the fire ‘stopping immediately short of this office’.

A week later a special combined edition for 28 April-5 May 1916 appeared, providing graphic detail of unfolding events.

The RCBL's Archive of the Month for the combined months of April and May 2016 focuses on this particular issue of the Gazette. Almost half of its pages were devoted to aspects of the Rising and its consequences for the Church of Ireland community, with several fascinating human-interest stories.

While the editorial in this special edition took a predictable condemnatory position in the immediate aftermath of the Rising – it summed up events as: ‘the most tragic week in the modern history of Ireland’ – it was also tempered by reality and a sense that Ireland had been utterly changed by the events of Easter Week.

All the content of this edition of the newspaper can be explored in April's Archive of the Month, along with all issues of the paper published during the commemorative period 1911-1923 which are digitized and freely searchable through the link above.

At the end of April, a commemorative copy of the special 28 April–5 May edition will be reprinted and circulated – a project supported by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.