The Old Athlone Society is hosting the latest Paths To Freedom event in Athlone town, on Saturday, April 2 – when RTE presenters Myles Dungan and Turtle Bunbury will be joined by local historians Ian Kenneally, John Burke and Gearoid O’Brien, plus author Liz Gillis, for a day of lectures and presentations to remember the 1916 Rising, 100 years on, in the Sheraton Hotel. Dr John Keane will be the master of ceremonies.
The Paths To Freedom programme brings together a team of authors and key academics for a day-long programme of talks and presentations on 1916 and its legacy. The roadshow opened with three sold-out events in Sligo and Dublin in February, and now moves on to Athlone, Kilkenny, Boyle, Cavan and Leitrim. Further events will be announced soon.
Saturday, April 2, Sheraton Hotel, Athlone
9.30 – Registration
10.15 – Introduction by Dr John Keane
10.20 – John Burke: The Midland Volunteers Force, Athlone
11.05 – Tea Break
11.15 – Liz Gillis: What Did The Women Do Anyway? Women and the Rising
12.00 – Ian Kenneally: We Kill All Our Own: Media, Propaganda, and the Rising
2.00 – Dr. Myles Dungan – Sentenced To Death – The Rebel Courts Martial
2.45 – Turtle Bunbury: Easter Dawn: Personalities of the Rising
3.30 – Tea Break
3.40 – Gearoid O’Brien: The 1916 Rising; Some Westmeath Connections
4.30 – Conclusion
The accompanying image from the Capuchin Archives shows crowds gathering at Westland Row station to welcome the return of the last rebel prisoners following a General Amnesty in 1917. By December 1916, the vast bulk of those interned in the wake of the Rising had been released. However, just over 100 republicans remained in prison until June 1917 when, under immense pressure from Sinn Féin and eager to give the upcoming Irish Convention a positive start, Lloyd George, the British prime minister, announced a general amnesty for all remaining political prisoners. Huge crowds greeted the former prisoners - Eamon de Valera, WT Cosgrave, Eoin McNeill and Austin Stack among them - as they arrived into Dun Laoghaire on the mail-boat from Holyhead on 18 June. By the time they reached Westland Row Station (now Pearse Station) there were literally thousands waiting to cheer them home. There were similar scenes later that day when Constance Markievicz, who had been held at Aylesbury Prison, returned to Ireland on the evening boat.