Washington, D.C. Robert Emmet Statue Rededicated

The Smithsonian and Irish Embassy rededicated the statue of Robert Emmet in Washington D.C. in April.

By R. Bryan Willits, Editorial Assistant
June / July 2016

In April, the Washington D.C. statue of Robert Emmet, the first of its kind and the model for several identical copies by Irish sculptor Jerome Connor, was rededicated in a national park currently designated as “reservation 302” by Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson.

The ceremony marked the concurrent centenaries of the Easter Rising, the formation of the National Park Service, and the creation of the first commemorative statue of Robert Emmet.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Rising, the D.C. sculpture was moved to its present site, a small park located at 24th Street and Massachusetts Avenue N.W., near the Irish Embassy. In this year’s rededication, Irish Ambassador Anne Anderson commented on the importance of Robert Emmet to the leaders of 1916, and noted that, “The connection between the Robert Emmet statue and the commemoration of 1916 is not merely symbolic or circumstantial. The men and women of 1916 were heirs to a long tradition, of which Emmet’s story formed an important part.

“Patrick Pearse in particular venerated Robert Emmet and gave expression to his admiration in stirring speeches he made in New York and Brooklyn during his U.S. visit in 1914,” she said.

“Although over 100 years had passed since his death, this was the first statue of Robert Emmet created anywhere. And the history of the statue speaks powerfully to the Irish-American connection: commissioned by the Smithsonian, cast by Irish sculptor Jerome Connor, funded by a group of Irish Americans, and unveiled in the U.S. National Museum in the presence of President Woodrow Wilson.”

The ambassador concluded the rededication with a word for future generations, saying, “today’s ceremony helps to fortify us for the future, confident that the precious friendship between our two countries will be renewed and replenished by the events of this centenary year.”

Other notable figures who took part in the ceremony include Robert Vogel, the Regional Director of the National Capital Region of National Park Service, Elizabeth Broun, the director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Brendan Moore, President of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the U.S. Representative for New York’s 14th congressional district, Joseph Crowley, who has introduced legislation to officially rename the place where the statue stands as “Robert Emmet Park.” ♦

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