Easter Rising at 100
March 15, 2016
A radical in thought only, it would seem. That would be me. These days, as the 100th anniversary of the reading of the Irish Republic Declaration of Independence from the steps of Dublin’s General Post Office nears, my heart marches to a much more ecumenical drummer.
Not that the "Easter Rising" of 1916 doesn’t occupy my thoughts on a daily basis. It would be the quick arrest and execution of the leaders of the Republican movement by the British that radicalized the populace to join the rebellion, which, if the truth be known, had produced only stifled yawns among onlookers as the Declaration was read.
To be honest, the extent of my personal rebellion against the historical occupation of Ireland by "the Brits" doesn’t go much further these days than not allowing Bushmills whiskey into the house. There, you Ulsterites, take that!
There are those back on the "Auld Sod," however, who were anything but happy with the Provisional IRA ceasefire back in 1994. And, according to news accounts, a few are rising again. Irish grudges, it would appear, have a similar half-life to that of Uranium. Who’d a thunk it?!
I can imagine the Irish bars along Park City’s Main Street being a hotbed of anti-British fervor during mining’s heyday, especially during March, what with St. Paddy’s Day and the approach of Easter, and all.
A somewhat hilarious recent take on such shenanigans would be the time when a few of us, after drinking the place dry and singing Irish rebel songs until the sheep came home, emerged from one of Father Pat Carley’s legendary St. Paddy’s Day parties at the Elk’s Club to stagger up Main Street to the Post Office.
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There, our "Irish tenors" continued to foul the aural environment in hopes of attracting the local constabulary, whom, we reasoned, would clasp us in irons, toss us in the dungeon, and, thereby, radicalize our brethren. The mere mention, however, that we might be missing "last call" across the street at the Alamo quickly dissolved our Brigade.
One of the main upsides to celebrating the Easter Rising Centennial this year will be the lack of precision in pinpointing which date to actually commemorate the event. In 1916 Easter Monday fell on April 24. In 2016, it falls on March 28. And with the uncorking of St. Paddy’s Day tomorrow, this could turn into one elongated bash.
I mean, it’s not like we could just choose one of the dates to celebrate! Is there not a genetic mandate to honor the martyred Irish rebels at least on all three, if not all the days connecting them? Now is not the time for moderation!
Speaking of genetics, however, I believe recent DNA analysis has shown that the Irish are more closely related to the Basques of northern Spain than other populations of the British Isles. We’re not Celtic after all? Do you hear that Mary (Uriarte) Mair and Kenny Binatena? I’ve always sensed we were family!
I wouldn’t doubt a bit that Dublin will be hosting celebrations aimed at Irish culture with special heed paid to literature and music (not to mention Jameson and Guinness) for at least a week — if not a month! The Basques are like that, you know!
The origins of Park City Ski Area "gang-skis" can also be traced to the Irish and St. Patrick’s Day — at least among those interlopers who arrived in the late ’60s and early ’70s. What monumental parties on the snow we had back then, ranging from the Keystone meadow to the deck of the old Mid-Mountain Lodge near the Gondola Angle Station.
It seemed like the entirety of the early Park City Muckers Rugby Football Club would leave its collective "sitzmark" upon the proceedings every year. Rumors still abound of participants requiring help to the Angle Station to catch a cabin in order to arrive at the base area in one piece.
It would be Father Pat Carley’s annual St. Paddy’s Day gatherings, however, that became most responsible for Park City’s ongoing love affair with the Irish holiday. He continually brought all ethnic and religious components of the town together to celebrate.
Finally, in the spirit of the St. Patrick’s Battalion (el Batallón de los San Patricios), a Mexican army unit comprised primarily of Irish Catholics who had defected from the invading US army during the Mexican-American War , let’s not forget that Wednesday, March 16, is the fundraiser for Jose Fernandez at the No Name Saloon on Main Street. Erin go Bragh, amigos!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.
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