Restored Pearse home officially opened
BY MARTIN SPAIN
The Ireland Institute proudly opened the doors of the restored Dublin family home of Padraig and Willie Pearse last Friday, 14 July. Padraig Pearse, the executed leader of the 1916 Rising, was born in the basement of Number 27 Pearse Street, which in the late 19th century, then Number 27 Great Brunswick Street, housed the Pearse family's stone sculpting business.
The Ireland Institute was set up in 1996 to provide ``an active intellectual environment for the study, discussion and promotion of Irish republican thought through historical and cultural research''. A focus for that work will be this house, famous not for its architecture but for its historical importance as the birthplace of the first President of the Irish Republic. It will be the organisation's official headquarters when building work is completed. The house came on the market in 1996 in a terrible state of disrepair. It was purchased by the Institute through the generosity of Hugo Flinn and funding was received to start restoration, a difficult job.
The building, crammed with invited guests, was officially opened by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. Also in attendance and providing a direct link to the Pearses was Deirdre O'Reilly. Padraig Pearse's mother, Margaret, was Deirdre's godmother, and the now elderly O'Reilly recalled the late Mrs Pearse (who died in 1932, when Deirdre was nine) with great affection. She recalled how she was a sickly child and Mrs Pearse, ``a lovely woman'', used to bring her presents, like boxed chocolate dolls wrapped in straw.
Ireland Institute President Declan Kiberd discussed Pearse's many and varied achievements in terms of literature, education and of course, revolution. The Pearses, he said, were ``doers, not dreamers''.
The Institute has recently published the first issue of The Republic, a journal of contemporary and historical debate, featuring essays from Theo Dorgan, Mary Cullen, Liam O'Dowd and Kevin McCorry, among others. Copies are available from the Sinn Féin Siopa, 44 Parnell Square, priced £5.