One hundred years ago, Irishmen and Irishwomen, declared an Irish Republic. Their ideals and values have inspired generations of Irish people. The Rising was initially unpopular, but slowly public opinion began to change. Playing their part in the interpretation of the events were artists, writers and musicians, and this provided a focus for us in Kildare in determining how we would celebrate our history and our heritage. The 1916 Rising changed utterly the fabric of Irish life and launched the nation on its quest for independence. In County Kildare we paid tribute to those who sacrificed so much on our behalf; we took pride in the events and how they impacted on the nation and our culture. We owed it to that generation of Irish men, women and children that we commemorated our history with pride and enthusiasm, and that we did justice, not only to their ideals and aspirations, but to their memory and sacrifice. The new Irish Republic claimed the allegiance of every Irish man and Irish woman, guaranteeing religious and civil liberty, equal rights and opportunities for all citizens, by cherishing all the children of the nation equally, declaring the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and to the control of their own destiny. We hold these dreams and aspirations in reverence and pledge ourselves to the pursuit of these goals in our daily lives. Our nation today is more diverse than ever and faces a new set of challenges. We must cherish and build on the founding principles of our nation. We do not need to live in the past, but remember and respect it as we build a better future for all our citizens.   Provenance 10