The act of national remembrance takes place each year on the nearest Sunday to 11 July, the day in 1921 that a truce was signed that ended the Irish War of Independence. At this year’s commemoration Dr Kirkpatrick read the closing prayer as part of a Christian act of worship.
The first National Day of Commemoration was held on 13 July 1986 and like last year, the event took place at Collins Barracks. President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, led the commemoration and laid a wreath which was followed by a minute’s silence.
Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD also took part in the event, which was watched by other senior political and civic representatives including members of the Government, members of the Oireachtas, the Council of State, the Diplomatic Corps, the Judiciary and relatives of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. The next-of-kin of those who died on service with the United Nations were also be present and a wide cross-section of the community from both sides of the border.
While the Dublin event is the main act of commemoration, several other locations across the country held regional ceremonies. It is also the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic that the main ceremony has been open to the public. Speaking after the event, which was broadcast live on RTÉ, Dr Kirkpatrick said, “It has been an honour and a privilege to be able to represent Presbyterians from across Ireland at this important act of remembrance and say the closing prayer during the Christian act of worship.
“At this significant time in the history of the State, as this year marks the centenary of the beginning of the Irish Civil War, we remember those who fought against one another, brother against brother, on this land 100 years ago and those Irishmen and Irishwomen who paid the ultimate price in the Great War and the Second Word War. We also remember the 87 service personnel who paid the same high price on the many peacekeeping tours that the Irish Defence Forces have conducted and continue to conduct in numerous countries with the United Nations,” he said.
Dr Kirkpatrick concluded by saying, “As I prayed this morning, ‘The love of fellow man that pays the greatest price. The love of liberty that fires the imagination. The love of peace that never gives up. We acknowledge above all the Love of God encountered in the Lord Jesus Christ who came not to be served but to serve and give his life a ransom for many. May He who has walked the darkest valley with us and for us, who for love of enemy has laid down his life, inspire and unite this and future generations under the beauty and vision of his gracious and lasting hope…’ Yesterday was a very poignant day and I was glad to have been able to take part in it on behalf of my church.”
Photos: (1) Three of the participants who took part in the Christian act of worship during the National Day of Commemoration (LtoR) Most Rev Dr Michael Jackson, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin with Most Rev Eamonn Walsh, Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Dublin, the Moderator, Rt Rev Dr John Kirkpatrick (2) Dr Kirkpatrick praying the closing prayer as seen on the screen at Collins Barracks (photo credit and (1) Patrick Hugh Lynch) (3) Dr Kirkpatrick with his wife Joan at the reception after the ceremony with An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin TD.
The 2018 General Assembly clarified the denomination’s position with regards to the Presbyterian Church in Ireland's participation in multi-faith civic events. You can read the position of the Church here.