2015 Press Releases

Stamp marks Pearse’s graveside oration for O’Donovan Rossa

30 Jul 2015
Pearse's oration at the graveside of O'Donovan Rossa (Pearse is standing to the right of the priest holding a hat) Image Keogh Collection, National Library of Ireland

An Post’s new 70c stamp marking the centenary of Pádraig Pearse’s historic speech at the graveside of O’Donovan Rossa was unveiled today in Rosscarbery, Co Cork by John Whelpley, great-grandson of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.

According to UCC historian Gabriel Doherty who spoke at the launch, O Donovan Rossa’s death, and funeral, in the summer of 1915 was a key event in the build-up to the 1916 Easter Rising, with Pádraig Pearse’s oration at his graveside in Glasnevin cemetery widely considered to be one of the most significant speeches in modern Irish history.

O'Donovan Rossa, born in Rosscarbery, was an early recruit to the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) who died in New York in June 1915, aged 84. His body was repatriated back to Ireland where the IRB arranged a major funeral on August 1, as a mark of support for Irish independence.

Pearse, a member of the IRB’s Military Council, was chosen to give the graveside oration. After the burial, dressed in the uniform of an Irish Volunteer officer, he stood forward and gave one of the most famous funeral orations in Irish history.

His carefully worded speech was a very deliberate statement on behalf of IRB’s Military Council who were secretly planning what became the 1916 Easter Rising. The closing lines “...but the fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace” served as a call for public support for an uprising.

On April 24, 1916, Pearse, again in uniform, stood outside the General Post Office in Dublin and read the Proclamation of the Republic of Ireland. Although the rising that followed failed, it set in train the events that led to the formation of the Irish Free State and ultimately the Republic of Ireland.

The stamp which was designed by Red&Grey Design features a graveside photograph of Pádraig from the Keogh Collection at the National Library and may be viewed or purchased at www.irishstamps.ie , at main post offices and the GPO Dublin.  A limited edition First Day Cover envelope is also available.


Other O’Donovan Rossa events to come include:

Friday, 31 July

On the evening of Friday 31 July, at c7.30pm, Gabriel Doherty will be giving a talk, hosted by the Irish Polish Society and the Polish embassy Dublin, and entitled ‘Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa: Irish nationalist and champion of the cause of Poland,’ at Polish House, 20 Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2. The event is free, with a particular welcome, not surprisingly, being extended to members of the Polish community in Ireland.

Saturday, 1 August

The state commemoration of the centenary of the burial of O’Donovan Rossa takes place in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin, on Saturday morning, 1 August. The event is being broadcast live by RTÉ, with the broadcast scheduled from 10.35am to 11.55am. This is the first event of the national 2016 commemorative programme, and it shall be attended by the President, Taoiseach, members of the diplomatic corps, other invited guests (including members of the extended O’Donovan Rossa family, and those involved in planning the commemorative programme), and members of the public. It will, in effect, act as the bridge between the O’Donovan Rossa commemoration and the national 1916 commemoration, in much the same way as the original funeral marked the start of the countdown to the Easter Rising.

Sunday, 2 August

On Sunday 2 August, at 3pm an exhibition is being opened in the Pearse Museum, St Enda’s Park, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16, the subject of which is Pearse’s famous oration at O’Donovan Rossa’s graveside at which Gabriel Doherty will speak.  Included in the exhibition are Pearse’s original hand-written notes for the speech. All are welcome to this free event, which is hosted by the Office of Public Works.


More about UCC's School of History http://www.ucc.ie/en/history/



University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF