Thousands of soldiers have marched through the streets of Dublin to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule. Although the six-day rebellion failed, it inspired a move toward independence.
A five-hour parade through the Irish capital got underway on Sunday morning, led by President Michael D. Higgins, who laid a wreath at Dublin's General Post Office, the rebel headquarters during the revolt, which began on Easter Monday 1916.
Almost 100 years on, at lunchtime on Sunday, an army officer read the 1916 proclamation by rebel leader Padraig Pearse, which declared "the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland."
Shortly after, a minute's silence was observed for the almost 500 people who were killed in the Rising, most of them civilians.
The rebels, who seized buildings across Dublin and proclaimed an Irish republic, were honored by a 4.4-kilometer (2.7-mile) march through the capital on Sunday, in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators.
In his speech, President Higgins said the country had come a long way in the past 100 years. But he added that Ireland was still working to build a truly inclusive republic, adding: "We can see that in many respects, we have not fully achieved the dreams and ideals for which our forebears gave so much."
Caretaker Prime Minister Enda Kenny also attended the wreath-laying. On Friday, he described the 1916 proclamation reading as "an act of brave defiance that lit the touchpaper leading to the culmination of centuries of struggle for Irish freedom."
Beginning of the end
When the uprising began, the British army was initially caught off-guard. But London sent reinforcements and began shelling the city, quickly forcing the rebels to surrender.
While many Irish people initially opposed the rebel aggression, the British response caused outrage and helped a surge in support for Irish independence.
Within six years, Britain had agreed to the creation of an independent nation, although without the northeastern part of the island, which still remains part of the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland.
The Rising "gave people the courage to believe we could achieve total independence," Eamon O'Cuiv, deputy leader of political party Fianna Fail, told Agence France-Presse.
More than 70 rebels and 150 British military and police were killed during the uprising. A further 2,600 were wounded.
Sunday's march continued commemorations that began on Saturday.
mm/jm (AFP, AP, dpa)