The graveside oration that changed the course of Irish history – new stamp issue released

August 4th, 2015 got to know that An Post marked the centenary of Padraig Pearse's legendary eulogy to west Cork-born patriot, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa (84), with a new stamp.

The stamp features a graveside photograph of Pádraig from the Keogh Collection at the National Library. The issue was unveiled and put on sale on the 30th of July.

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.

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