1916 Commemorations | Kilkenny Tourism

1916 Commemorations


1916 Commemorations in Kilkenny

Ireland 2016 is a year-long programme of activity, in which everyone is invited to participate, to commemorate the events of the 1916 Rising, to reflect on our achievements as a democratic state over the last 100 years and to look towards Ireland’s future.

Speaking about the year-long programme of activity, John Mulholland, A/Chief Executive said: “Ireland 2016, as a year of reflection and engagement for everyone on this island, goes far beyond the formal marking of a key historical moment. It is a once-in-a-century invitation to people of all ages, at home and overseas, to shape and take part in a diverse range of historical, cultural and artistic activities, all designed to nurture reflection, commemoration, celebration and debate. There is a wealth of imagination, energy and vision available to us in Kilkenny and I want to encourage everyone to get involved in their own way so we can make Ireland 2016 a truly national event .”


Throughout 2016

A local walking tour of various Volunteer and Military heritage related sites, to assist in understanding the events attended by many of those national figures who visited Kilkenny during the build-up to the Rising and the aftermath—personalities such as Casement, MacNeill, MacDonagh, Redmond, Cathal Brugha, W.T. Cosgrave, DeValera — all held meetings in Kilkenny, and the landmark buildings still survive — City Hall, Market Yard, Kyteler’s Inn etc.

March to September 2016

James Stephen’s Barracks Military Museum displays items from Kilkenny’s Military History. The barracks itself was a significant building which was central to Kilkenny’s military heritage. The military heritage on display will have a 1916 focus for visitors with material relevant to the period.

Summer 2016

Street Festivals - Kilkenny County Council played the leading role in the provision of social housing in the early 20th Century, following the clearances of poor standard accommodation. The naming of some streets memorialises some of the leading national figures of the period. Street Festivals in locations such as MacDonagh Street, Connolly Street, Pearse Street, Father Albert Place, and Fr. Delahunty Terrace in Kilkenny City provide an opportunity to revisit both the role of housing schemes in Kilkenny’s social history and reconnect residents with the stories behind the estate names.

Autumn 2016

Official Opening of Kilkenny’s Medieval Mile Museum at St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard Complex. The Medieval Museum is a major new cultural centre in the heart of Ireland’s Medieval Mile, Kilkenny. St. Mary’s Church and Graveyard will be converted and extended into a modern museum and exhibition centre and the initial display will have a specific theme on 1916 in Kilkenny.

November 2016

A key event of Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme, through generous support from Kilkenny County Council, The Messenger is Barnstorm’s powerful new play that looks at the 1916 Rising through the eyes of a ten-year old child.  

Christy 'Bullet' Brady is a boy with a mission. He wants to be the fastest runner in the street. When the Easter Rising kicks off, revolution is the last thing on Christy's mind. He's just carrying a message for his Ma. It turns out to be just the first of many messages he carries that week...

FAMILY SHOWS at Friday 18 & Saturday 19 November, 7.30pm at Watergate Theatre (056 776 1674)

Barnstorm’s Classroom Activity Pack supports teachers in the delivery of critical analysis and learning outcomes in the classroom after attending the play. County Kilkenny schools receive a Drama Workshop in their school after the play. Kindly supported by Kilkenny County Council’s Centenary Programme. 

Autumn / Winter 2016

Ranganna Gaeilge in our local library branches at beginner level in conjunction with Léargas

More information on events at kilkennycoco.ie



“Seachtain Mhic Dhonnchadha / MacDonagh Week” launched by Kilkenny County Council

The Kilkenny 2016 Commemorations Plan will honour Thomas MacDonagh a signatory to the Proclamation, who was amongst those executed after the 1916 Rising. Kilkenny County Council’s all party commemorations committee decided to promote a series of events centred on the life and times of MacDonagh and the places, people and events in Kilkenny which had a significant influence on him. Seachtain Mhic Dhonnchadha / MacDonagh Week will commence on April 30th and run to May 9th 2016.

MacDonagh had very strong connections with Kilkenny, he lived and worked in Kilkenny and by all accounts became more radical during his time here in the formative years of the early 20th Century. Seachtain Mhic Dhonnchadha / MacDonagh Week is one of the central planks in this year of commemorations.

Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council Cllr. Mary Hilda Cavangh formally launched Thomas MacDonagh Week on Friday 15th April at James Stephen’s Military Barracks, Kilkenny. She noted in her speech “I can hear people asking why wait until May, why are we commemorating MacDonagh, weeks after the recent National Easter Rising ceremonies in Dublin? Well, as we know Easter is the original “moveable feast” and Easter Monday in 1916 fell on 24th April, and following the Rising came the surrender, closely followed by the Courts Martial, and then, finally, the executions.”

She added “The first military courts martial sat on May 2nd; they immediately sentenced three men – Patrick Pearse, Tom Clarke and Thomas MacDonagh – to death. The three were taken that evening to the disused Kilmainham Gaol and shot at dawn on May 3rd 1916 in the Stonebreaker’s Yard. And so we are taking the opportunity to reflect on the life and times, and legacy of MacDonagh on his anniversary, starting on 30th April, running through to 9th May, through street theatre, theatrical performance, music and song, and by a lecture as Gaeilge, in Rothe House, which held a special place in his heart.

One of the highlights of Seachtain Mhic Dhonnchadha will be on May 3rd next, MacDonagh’s 100th Anniversary, when Kilkenny City will host a March Past by troops bound for the Lebanon as part of an ongoing U.N. Peacekeeping mission. Joe Malone, Mayor and Chairman of Kilkenny County Council’s Commemorations Committee said “It will be open to the public to come and view the Army as they parade through the city streets and I encourage people to come to Kilkenny on the day with tricolours flying to show our appreciation and support for those who are continuing the proud peacekeeping traditions of Óglaigh na hÉireann.

1916 in Kilkenny with Thomas MacDonagh Week

Other events throughout the week will include:

  • Saturday 30th April to Tuesday 3rd May - Street Theatre: ‘Rise' presented by Heritage Tales - Streets of Kilkenny - 7pm daily.
  • Booking essential at Rollercoaster Records, Kieran Street, Kilkenny
  • The Stories of the past are woven in stone... Rise with revolutionary Thomas MacDonagh as he summons the people of Kilkenny to join in the campaign for independence. Join the men and women of Kilkenny who were influenced by MacDonagh and fought for a free Ireland. Their stories are brought to life on the historic streets of Kilkenny. For more information please visit facebook.com/the1916project
  • Saturday 30th April to Saturday 7th May - The Stories Our Streets Can Tell: Kilkenny’s Military Heritage 1913­-1923 - 10.30am & 3pm daily.
  • Free of charge for Seachtain MacDonagh, Tours are normally €5/person
  • Take the Military Heritage Tour of Kilkenny’s military heritage sites. You will be expertly guided around the landmark buildings and places which were linked to all aspects of activity in the lead up to Easter 1916, and its aftermath. Get the story of the use of buildings such as the Tholsel, Kyteler’s Inn, Rothe House and hear the story of the Friary Street ambush. Tours are guided and booking is through the Watergate Theatre at www.watergatetheatre.com.
  • Sunday 1st MayMass: Capuchin Friary Church in Kilkenny - Friary Church, Friary St - 10.30am
  • Aifreann ag comóradh Laochra na Cásca
  • Tuesday 3rd May - The 53 Inf Gp currently preparing for it's upcoming departure to Lebanon will have their Ministerial Review in Kilkenny Castle - Kilkenny Castle - 3pm
  • The Group are commanded by Lt Col Stephen Ryan and are made up of troops predominantly from James Stephens Barracks and the Southern Brigade. The Ministerial Review will commence with a ceremony in Kilkenny Castle followed by a march through Kilkenny’s High Street where a Minister of Cabinet will be present at the Town Hall for the March past to review the group. The troops have prepared for their tour of duty with extensive training since March in Kilworth Camp and the Glen of Imaal.

MacDonagh Week in Kilkenny

In photo (L-R) Private Jamie Quinn, Private Josh Moore, Private Ryan Moan, and
Private Aidan McCormack from James Stephen’s Military Barracks
(Photo by Dylan Vaughan)

  • Tuesday 3rd & Wednesday 4th May - Theatre: Carnation Theatre present "Midwives Of A Nation" - Watergate Theatre, Parliment St - 3rd May at 8pm + 4th May at 11am
  • FREE OF CHARGE, ticketed, booking is through the Watergate at www.watergatetheatre.com
  • Carnation Theatre is proud to present: "Midwives of a Nation" co­written with Joe O'Byrne. “Midwives” celebrates the oft forgotten contribution of women to the events of 1916 ­ the big and the not so big characters of which there are so many: Elizabeth O'Farrell, Margaret Skinnider, Countess Markievicz, Winnie Carnie to name but a few. These ladies were the dispatchers, the doctors, the First­Aiders, the snipers, the tea makers, the gun runners...the list goes on! Join Carnation theatre as we celebrate the women who were there at the birth of our nation.
  • Thursday 5th May - Concert: Myles Duggan presents The Count, The Countess & The Tommy - Watergate Theatre, Parliment St - 8pm
  • FREE OF CHARGE, ticketed, booking through www.watergatetheatre.com
  • Kilkenny’s Watergate Theatre will be the venue this May for the premiere of Myles Dungan's new 1916 show – The Count, The Countess & The Tommy. The show, starring soloist Simon Morgan ­ as seen on RTE's Late Late Show ­ centres on the life and music of the celebrated Irish tenor Count John McCormack, and features some of the best­known songs of a hundred years ago. May 5th is the date set for the first­ever performance of the show, which goes on to tour Dublin, Roscommon, Cavan, Leitrim and beyond, as part of broadcaster Myles Dungan's Paths To Freedom roadshow project, a unique package of lectures, presentations and shows remembering the Rising, one hundred years on.
  • Friday 6th MayTeach an Rútaigh (Rothe House), Léacht Cuimhneacháin 1916 - Rothe House, Parliment St - 7.30pm
  • i.n. Conradh na Gaeilge Cill Chainnigh léacht: “Thomas Mac Donagh agus a Ról san Éirí Amach 1916”, a thabharfaidh Alan Titley, Údar agus Scoláire. Fáiltiú agus Cantóirí an Rútaigh
  • Saturday 7th MayMacDonagh Train Station Kilkenny: Remembering Thomas MacDonagh "1916 ­ Portraits and Lives" - MacDonagh Junction - 10am
  • Portraits and Lives of Rising leaders to be brought to daily commuters, by Iarnród Éireann in partnership with Royal Irish Academy.
  • In 1966, the State renamed fifteen stations on the rail network after the executed Leaders of 1916 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rising. A further fifty years on, and to mark the centenary of the Rising, Iarnród Éireann have partnered with the Royal Irish Academy to enable daily commuters, tourists and visitors to learn more about the people whose names are celebrated in these stations. Kilkenny’s railway station was named after Thomas MacDonagh, who was a signatory to the Proclamation and who was executed on 3rd May 1916. MacDonagh lived and worked in Kilkenny in the early years of the 20th Century. The display in Kilkenny will feature a specially commissioned portrait of MacDonagh by artist David Rooney and information about his life, taken from the Royal Irish Academy's "1916 ­ Portraits and Lives" publication. A QR code is included in so that customers can download the chapter of the book about Thomas MacDonagh for free. They can also be downloaded through the following link https://www.ria.ie/research-projects/1916-portraits-and-lives. As part of Iarnród Éireann's 1916 commemoration programme we will be hosting a special event, on 7th May in Kilkenny, to remember Thomas MacDonagh, after whom Kilkenny Station was renamed in 1966.
  • Saturday 7th May - Schools Poetry Recital - MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre - 11am
  • As part of their 1916 commemorations, St Kieran’s College are celebrating the lives of former members of staff Thomas MacDonagh and Francis Sheehy­Skeffington with an inter­schools poetry competition. This event will showcase the finalists chosen by poet Stephen Murray from first year secondary schools in Kilkenny. In addition Stephen Murray will hold a free poetry masterclass for interested persons in the MacDonagh Shopping Centre on the day. Any person wishing to register for this event should email info@macdonaghjunction.com or see www.macdonaghjunction.com for further details. There will also be traditional music and dance performances on the day.
  • Monday 9th May - Family Tree Research - Carnegie Library, John’s Quay - 12pm to 4pm, Free event
  • To mark the centenary of the Easter Rising, family history experts from Findmypast and Eneclann are touring Ireland to help you trace your ancestors. Join us for a FREE day full of family history on 9th May 2016 in the Carnegie Library, Kilkenny. On the day you can expect: Free access to billions of family history records on www.findmypast.ie Talks on finding your roots and the 1916 Rising.


7th May 2016

Thomas MacDonagh — The Kilkenny Connection: The Royal Irish Academy has produced a book of biographies with portraits entitled “1916 Portraits and Lives” which includes a biography and portrait of Thomas MacDonagh. The Portrait will be exhibited at MacDonagh Railway Station by kind permission of Irish Rail. Passengers and visitors will be able to download an eReader version of MacDonagh’s biography during 2016. Reproduction of MacDonagh’s biography for circulation in Kilkenny has been kindly facilitated by the Royal Irish Academy

9th May 2016

FREE Event - ‘Family History Research Day’ in Kilkenny City Library, John’s Quay, Kilkenny.

May 2016

Seachtain Mhic Dhonnchadha / Thomas MacDonagh week in Kilkenny, marking the centenary of MacDonagh’s death by execution on 3rd May to include: Theatrical Production around the trial of Thomas MacDonagh Keynote debate around the life and times of Thomas MacDonagh Displays in MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre Concert and Film in Watergate Theatre.

May 2016

Castlecomer native Paddy Bealin was shot dead by British Forces in the aftermath of the Easter Rising and a commemorative plaque will be unveiled to commemorate his death. A social event comprising a reflection and musical entertainment will follow in the Castlecomer Parish Hall.

June 2016

Conference on Irish Language Revival as an influence in the lead up to the Rising.

8th to 10th July 2016

Leinster Fleadh Cheóil Irish song and dance played an influential role in the Irish Revival, and served as a means of bringing Irish culture and heritage to prominence by way of establishing identity. In 2016 Kilkenny will host the Leinster Fleadh Cheóil with approximately 160 competitions taking place from Friday 8th July to Sunday 10th July comprising Musical instrument, (Solo, Duets, Trio’s and Groups and Céilí Bands), Singing in Irish and English, Lilting, Céilí Dancing, Set Dancing, Sean Nós dancing, Marching Bands and Cómhrá. Representatives of all 12 Leinster Counties in all competitions will take part. A Gig Rig for outdoor entertainment covering the Friday to Sunday with local groups and acts from neighbouring counties will be erected at the Parade.

10th July 2016

National Day of Commemoration Regional Ceremony in Kilkenny, followed by a display of 1916 themed memorabilia in the Parade Tower conference centre at Kilkenny Castle.

August 2016

Kilkenny is renowned as a centre for the Arts and has a strong cultural history. Ireland 2016 provides the opportunity to explore the work of the poets and poetry of 1916, and in collaboration with Kilkenny Arts Festival the writings and ideologies of the poet-patriots can be explored



1916 Commemoration Ceremony

Monday 28th March 2016

Kilkenny County Council will host a Commemoration Ceremony on Easter Monday morning at County Hall, John Street. 

The Ceremony will be based around the 1916 Proclamation and raising the National Flag in the garden of County Hall, which will be dedicated as a Memorial Garden.

The Easter Monday events will commence with guided Military Heritage Tours of Kilkenny City, commencing at 10.30am from City Hall, High Street.

The guided tour lasts for about an hour and is free of charge.  Those who wish to participate are requested to congregate at the Council Chamber, City Hall at 10.15am., where they will be given a brief presentation prior to the tour.  The tours are being facilitated by volunteer guides who have kindly agreed to provide a regular tour which will run during the next few months but  must be pre-booked through the Watergate Theatre (www.watergate.com).

The Commemoration Ceremony will follow at 12.00 noon in County Hall ,  John Street and will be hosted by the Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr. Mary Hilda Cavanagh, and members of Kilkenny Co. Council.  

The Commemoration Ceremony will consist of three parts:

1)    Address by Cathaoirleach and unveiling of a bronze cast Proclamation
2)    Reading of the 1916 Proclamation and Flag Raising Ceremony, performed by the 
       Irish Army Personnel
3)    Musical Recital, including Amhrán na bhFiann.

The public are invited to attend and anyone intending to do so is requested to arrive before 12.00 noon.  Limited parking will be available in County Hall Car Park, until 11.45am, at which point access will be curtailed to facilitate the ceremony. 

Pedestrian access via John Street to Maudlin Street is the preferred method for access. 

Kilkenny County Council intends that the event will be family friendly and provide a means of allowing all who wish to participate, to do so in comfort and patrons are requested to allow children to take up good vantage points in County Hall.


Launch of MacDonagh Week - Friday 15th April at 5.30pm

The Cathaoirleach of Kilkenny County Council, Cllr. Mary Hilda Kavanagh, will launch MacDonagh Week at the Officers Mess in James Stephens Military Barraks. MacDonagh Week takes place from 30th April to 9th May. marking the centenary of MacDonagh’s death by execution on 3rd May to include: Theatrical Production around the trial of Thomas MacDonagh Keynote debate around the life and times of Thomas MacDonagh Displays in MacDonagh Junction Shopping Centre Concert and Film in Watergate Theatre

MacDonagh Week Launch in Kilkenny


More events to be announced soon....