DUBLIN -- Irish troops marched down famed O'Connell St. today in an independence parade celebrating the birth of a free Irish republic after nearly eight centuries of British rule.
A crowd of nearly 100,000 gathered to view the parade after a booming 21-gun salute to the new republic fired at the same spot at five minutes past midnight.
The troops marched past a review stand featuring a huge map of Ireland with the 26 counties of the Irish republic marked in green and the six British-controlled northern counties colored in bright orange.
President Sean. T. O'Kelly, Premier John A. Costello and other leaders of the new Republic gathered in the reviewing stand to watch troops march past.
The green, white and orange tricolor of the new Republic fluttered from the bullet-scarred Post Office Building for the first time today. The flag was raised at noon on the building where, 33 years ago, Irish leaders proclaimed a republic during the 1916 Easter Rebellion.
The military ceremonies, marked by zooming planes overhead, were preceded by religious services in Dublin's historic Cathedral. The services were attended by O'Kelly, Costello and other leaders, including veterans of the Easter Rebellion.
Conspicuously absent from the day's ceremonies were Ex-Premier Eamon De Valera and members of his Fianna Fail party, who opposed any independence celebrations until the six counties of Northern Ireland are incorporated into the Republic.
De Valera, last surviving commandant of the 1916 Easter rebellion, said "rejoicings are out of place" so long as Ireland is divided.
Despite this a cheering crowd of between 150,000 and 200,000 massed at midnight in O'Connell St., Dublin's main thoroughfare, to witness ceremonies proclaiming birth of the republic.
At exactly five minutes past midnight the first gun of a 21-gun salute roared out across the dark waters of river Liffey. Floodlights streaked the sky with brilliance and shone upon the orange, green and white of Irish tricolors draped on the Post Office building.
It was in this Post Office 33 years ago that leaders of the Easter rebellion battled the British and proclaimed the republic of Ireland which reached maturity today.
The O'Connell St. crowd, which had streamed into the city by train, trolley, bus and car, was described by police as the greatest ever assembled in Dublin.
Costello said "until partition (between Northern and Southern Ireland) goes we cannot give the full contribution we could give in economic and military cooperation in the defense of peace."
Ireland has decided not to join the Atlantic Pact while the six counties of Northern Ireland remain within the United Kingdom.
However, Costello added:
"Although we have severed the ties that bound us to Great Britain and other members of the Commonwealth, we believe that what has been done today will ensure more cordial and closer cooperation, greater and more real friendship between Ireland, Great Britain and the other Commonwealth countries than could ever have existed under former conditions.
Messages of congratulations poured in to President Sean T. O'Kelly from state leaders throughout the world. Among them was one from King George VI of Great Britain which said:
"I send you my sincere good wishes on this day, being well aware of the neighborly links which hold the people of the Republic of Ireland in close association with my subjects of the United Kingdom."
Other messages came from Pope Pius XII, President Truman, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee and many others.
In the six counties of the north, special police were called to duty to prevent demonstrations by Irish Nationalists.
The Irish in England celebrated the event amid speculation concerning their status as British citizens now that Ireland had become a republic.
Under a new British act, a citizen of Ireland may be registered as a citizen of the United Kingdom merely by writing to the British Home Office. However, only 3000 of more than 1,000,000 Irish in Britain have done so.