Wednesday 8 March 2017

Easter Rising 1916

"I die that the Irish nation might live!" (Sean McDermott)

It made the front page of the New York Times eight days in a row.  It divided an island.  Sixteen of its leaders were executed, all of which have railway stations named after them.(

The Easter Rising began on East Monday, 1916.  It was planned by the Irish Republican Military Council.  Contrary to what the name implies, the Council's members were not all politicians or military men. Thomas McDonough and Joseph Plunkett were poets.  Plunkett married his fiancee only eight hours before his execution.  Patrick Pearse was a writer and a schoolteacher.  James Connolly, a republic leader, was not even born in Ireland but in the United States.  Connolly was so injured that he was carried on a stretcher to his execution.  Eamon de Valera, a fellow American was a prominent politician and statesman in Ireland.  Thomas Clarke, an Irish revolutionary who started the Brooklyn Gaelic Society, was English born. Sean McDermott, who editted the IRB newspaper Irish Freedom, wrote in 1916:  "I die that the Irish nation might live!"

When the Rising began when the Irish Republicans took over significant buildings in Dublin, amid little resistance.  When the fighting began in earnest, the Irish Republican troops outnumbered the British ones 1000 to 400. Within a week, that all changed;  the British boasted 19000 troops to the Irish Republican's 1600.  While fighting occurred in various parts of Ireland, the IRB were most successful in Dublin where they established headquarters at the post office.  The deadliest battle took place at Mount Street Bridge in Dublin.  The entire Easter Rising lasted only six days.

Rather than seeing the IRB leaders as heroes, they were initially considered traitors by many Irish citizens.  Irish civilians incurred 154 deaths and 2000 injuries during the revolt.  However, once the execution of the uprising's instigators began, the national mood changed.  Songs were sung to honour the Rising's leaders, funds were collected to aid their families and Irish Republican flags appeared.  While 3000 were arrested after the revolt, they were granted amnesty by the British government in 1917.

Scenes of destruction during the Rising.

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