Which anniversaries are worth celebrating?

By Kevin O’Sullivan

DARTAnd on a lighter, Friday afternoon note, hasn’t it been quite a month for anniversaries? The GAA celebrated 125 years with a good Leinster football final and a dull Munster hurling final (in spite of my predictions to the contrary); the Moon landing’s fortieth bash was on Monday (I know we didn’t mention it, but everyone else did, so you’re hardly short on material); and yesterday the DART reached the grand old quarter-century.

Which, because I’m supposed to be doing something else – i.e. finishing an article – got me wondering: since everything and anything appears to be worth celebrating these days, how do we know which anniversaries are the most important and which ones we should pay attention to? Sixtieth anniversary of Ireland leaving the Commonwealth or fifteenth anniversary of Ray Houghton chipping Italy’s Gianluca Pagliuca from outside the box in the Giants Stadium, New York? Two hundred and fifty years of Guinness or a century of Persil? Who or what decides?

Fear not, for I have come up with a plan™: the more books, films, documentaries, advertisements and assorted paraphernalia the event produces, the more important it is. Not fool-proof I know (largely since it involves measuring after the fact), but bear with me. Take the example of this month’s events. The Moon landing has obviously been the leader, with numerous books (see this interesting review in the Financial Times for a taster), films, television programmes, and general grandiose posturing about going back. The GAA’s been doing pretty well too, with a €500,000 fireworks display at the opening game of the National League under floodlights at Croke Park back in January, an extensive oral history project, a campaign with RTÉ with lots of archive footage to accompany the Sunday Game, and a book looking back at the organisation’s sporting and cultural significance. And DART’s place in the pecking order? Well, commuters have been treated to some free gigs (including Jerry Fish and the Mudbug Club), balloons, banners, and yesterday, depending on which goodie bag you picked up, the following: 1 bottle of Ballygowan raspberry-flavoured water, 1 bag of Tayto salt and vinegar crisps, 2 McVitie’s chocolate digestive biscuits, 1 ‘Happy Birthday DART’ lollipop, 1 Tesco keyring, 1 Eason’s bookmark and 1 flyer for the Clery’s sale. Not there yet, but getting there, or something like that.

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5 Responses to “Which anniversaries are worth celebrating?”

  1. Brian Hanley Says:

    My vote for most important anniversary (and totally unconnected to the latest History Ireland which I was involved with) is the 40th anniversary of the August 1969 events in the north. We know now that this signalled the start of the ‘Troubles’; which impacted on every aspect of life, north and south, (including history writing) for the next 30 years. Leaving aside the huge human cost in a island as small as ours.
    But compare the paucity of books, conferences, seminars etc this year compared to the anniversaries of ’68’; for whatever reason 1969, when the chickens come home to roost so to speak, seems a lot less ‘sexy’ than ‘Paris, London, Rome, Berlin.’
    The end of communism in 1989 is a biggie too, but I don’t think we’ll be short of retrospectives come October/November.

  2. peter rigney Says:

    The DART anniversary should remind us that Colm Mc Carthy ( he of An Bord Snip) argued at the time against rail electrification and in favour of upgrading the then clapped out thirty year old diesel trains. As for Dublin City Transport policy he advocted ‘muddling through’.
    “DKM celebrating a quarter century of dodgy advice”

  3. Lisa-Marie Griffith Says:

    I saw someone with a bag the other day that said ‘Penny’s 40th anniversary; 1969-2009’. I couldn’t believe that while Penny’s are celebrating their anniversary we have heard so little about 1949 and Ireland leaving the commonwealth.

  4. Pue’s Recommendations for November « Pue’s Occurrences Says:

    […] Pue’s Recommendations for November By puesoccurrences Juliana Adelman This month the Economic and Social History Society of Ireland are holding their annual conference on ‘Ireland: city, town and village’, 13 and 14 November at the University of Ulster, Belfast campus.  There’s a great line up of papers, check out the programme on our events page.  The Blue Raincoat Theatre Company is staging an adaptation of Flann O’Brien’s At Swim Two Birds in Sligo.  Opera Ireland is offering Macbeth (Verdi) and Das Rheingold (Wagner) to stave off winter blues.  And finally, October saw the 40th anniversary of Monty Python which is certainly an anniversary I think worth celebrating.  Enjoy  highlights on their youtube site.  (And you can read Kevin’s piece on the proliferation of anniversaries, here.) […]

  5. Freeeeeee Nelson Mandela « Pue's Occurrences Says:

    […] Mandela.’ Twenty years and one day since the ANC leader left prison? Now there’s an anniversary worth celebrating. Too often in recent times we in the West have been quick to criticise the rainbow nation. Has […]

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