Ireland marked the centenary of the Easter Rising against British rule on Saturday with a remembrance ceremony and a state reception for hundreds of relatives of people who joined the 1916 rebellion.

President Michael D Higgins laid a wreath before a one-minute silence was observed at a midday ceremony in Dublin's Garden of Remembrance.

Acting Prime Minister Enda Kenny and senior ministers also attended the remembrance ceremony, joining about 700 relatives of 78 people who died in 1916, national broadcaster RTE reported.

"It is important that we bear witness, this centenary year, to all those who gave their lives during Easter 1916," Kenny said on Twitter.

Higgins attended a state reception that was expected to attract about 4,000 relatives of 1916 participants on Saturday evening.

He will lead the main commemorations of the Easter Rising on Sunday, including a ceremony at Dublin's General Post Office (GPO), where Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to join a parade through the city following the GPO ceremony.

Later on Sunday, Higgins plans to lay a wreath at the site where British forces executed many of the leaders of the 1916 uprising, before attending a state reception at Dublin Castle in the evening.

Speaking at the opening of an exhibition at the GPO on Friday, Kenny said Pearse's reading of the proclamation was "an act of brave defiance that lit the touchpaper leading to the culmination of centuries of struggle for Irish freedom," the Irish Times reported.

Pearse Doherty, a member of the Irish parliament for nationalist party Sinn Fein, said "a lot needs to be done" to achieve the aims of the 1916 rebels.

"We still have a part of our country (Northern Ireland) under British rule, and that is not what the leaders of 1916 stood for," Doherty told RTE on Saturday. "They wanted an all-Ireland republic."

In Northern Ireland on Saturday, about a dozen masked men and women dressed in military-style uniforms marched through the town of Lurgan led by a man carrying a large Irish flag, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said about 30 youths attacked officers with stones late Friday in the town of Newry.

In an interview with the BBC ahead of Saturday's events, Higgins said he hoped that "people in Northern Ireland will approach these commemorations generously."

Ahead of the anniversary, Higgins used his St Patrick's Day address to highlight "the complexity of the historic event that was the Easter Rising."

"We can now acknowledge the diverse identities, backgrounds and experiences of those who participated in it, as well as the varied ideologies and beliefs that motivated them," he said.

"Whatever their differing priorities, all of these men and women were at one in their commitment to rejecting empire," Higgins said.

"All of them were determined to achieve independence, and to proclaim a free republic with equal rights and opportunities for all its citizens."

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