Easter Rising 1916


Title: Easter Rising 1916

Author: Septs of Ireland

Full Text & Source: http://www.easter1916.net/

The Internet, Online, 4/4/2015

Sample Text:

Easter 1916 Rising

The Gaelic American stated President Wilson knew of Casement’s intentions to land arms in Ireland and warned the British government.  (New York Times, April 27, 1916, pp. 1 & 4.)  The Irish Republican Brotherhood had decided at the early stages of the was that a rebellion must occur at some time during the war.  Professor MacNeill, the nominal leader of the group had arranged for a parade to be held on Easter Sunday.  He later found out the parade was to be the base of the rebellion and cancelled the event.  By this time, the promised aid from Germany had fallen through.  In spite of MacNeill’s order, a few Irish decided to go ahead with the rising.  James Connolly and Patrick Pearse were the leaders of the 1,000 man force.  On April 24, 1916, the Monday after Easter,  the small group took over several buildings in Dublin.  Despite the great odds against them, the Irish patriots held out for about a week.

At this same time, Eamon DeValera had his big opportunity to come forth as one of the new leader of the Irish Nationalist movement.  He was able to conduct his part of the uprising with great skill.  Seven leaders of the rising proclaimed an Irish Republic.  All seven of the signers were executed along with eight others.  DeValera, the only battalion commander not killed, was saved because Redmon proclaimed him an American citizen.  DeValera’s mother was an American, and he was born in New York City.  His death sentence was communed to life imprisonment along with that of William T. Cosgrave.  The British did not want to execute and American citizen and risk alienating the United States. (Ireland, pp. 328-334)

John Redmon condemned the uprising and stated that too mujch encouragement had come from the Irish-Americans.  (New York Times, April 29, 1916, pp. 1-3.)   The Easter 1916 rising provided a “blood sacrifice” for an Ireland that had becomeap;athetic. (Edmund Curtis.  A History of Ireland. New York, 1961. p. 406)  The rising was not supported by public opinion in Ireland.  Afterward, general incompetence on the part of the British government, and the arrests of thousands of men, some of who were taken to England, only served to arouse hatred for the English among the population.  The men who were executed were regarded as martyrs.  If the situation had been handled wisely by the British, the Irish radical cause and the Sinn Fein movement could have received a severe setback.   A quote from page 28 of the Irish Home Rule Convention by George Russell, “A muddling nation trying to govern one of the cleverest nations in the World.”  (Russell, p.28.)

As an aftermath of the rising about 50,000 British soldiers were stationed in Ireland which deprived England much needed men and equipment.  Recruitment in Ireland practically stopped making a net loss to the firing line of 100,000 men.  (Russell, p.32.)


Professor MacNeill, the nominal leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, had arranged for a parade to be held on Easter Sunday.  He later found out the parade was to be the base of the rising and cancelled the event.

The Easter Rising planned by the Irish Republican Brotherhood was virtually confined to Dublin. This was the opening act of the Irish War for Independence.  Moreover, confusion was caused by a rash of conflicting orders sent out to the Irish Volunteers – the main strike force – from their headquarters and the decision taken by the rebel leaders to postpone their action arranged for Easter Sunday 23rd April, until the next day.

At about 11.00 am on Easter Monday, Patrick Pearse and the Volunteers, along with James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army, assembled at various prearranged meeting points in Dublin, and before noon set out to occupy a number of imposing buildings in the inner city area. These had been selected to command the main routes into the capital, and also because of their strategic position in relation to the major military barracks. They included the General Post Office, the Four Courts, Jacob’s Factory, Boland’s Bakery, the South Dublin Union, St. Stephen’s Green and later the College of Surgeons. Photos  There was little fighting on the first day since British intelligence had failed hopelessly, the properties targeted were taken virtually without resistance and immediately the rebels set about making them defensible. The GPO was the nerve center of the rebellion. It served as the rebels’ headquarters and the seat of the provisional government which they declared. Five of its members served there – Pearse, Clarke, Connolly, MacDermott and Plunkett.

The British military onslaught, which the rebels had anticipated, did not at first materialize. When the Rising began the authorities had just 400 troops to confront roughly 1,000 insurgents. Their immediate priorities were therefore to amass reinforcements, gather information on volunteer strength and locations and protect strategic positions, including the seat of government, Dublin Castle, which had initially been virtually undefended.  On Tuesday, a British force of 4,500 men with artillery attacked and secured the Castle. Photos

“As the week progressed, the fighting in some areas did become intense, characterized by prolonged, fiercely contested hand to hand street battles. Military casualties were highest at Mount Street Bridge. There, newly arrived troops made successive, tactically inept, frontal attacks on determined and disciplined volunteers occupying several strongly fortified outposts. They lost 234 men, dead or wounded while just 5 rebels died. In some instances, lapses in military discipline occurred. Soldiers were alleged to have killed 15 unarmed men in North King Street near the Four Courts during intense gun battles there on 28th and 29th April. The pacifist Francis Sheehy-Skeffington was the best- known civilian victim of the insurrection. He was arrested in Dublin on 25th April, taken to Portobello Barracks and shot by firing squad next morning without trial.

Overall the British authorities responded competently to the Rising. Reinforcements were speedily drafted into the capital and by Friday 28th April, the 1,600 rebels (more had joined during the week) were facing 18-20,000 soldiers. From Thursday the GPO was entirely cut off from other rebel garrisons. Next day it came under a ferocious artillery attack which also devastated much of central Dublin. Having learnt the lessons of Mount Street Bridge, the troops did not attempt a mass infantry attack. Their strategy was effective. It compelled the insurgent leaders, based at the Post Office, first to evacuate the building and later to accept the only terms on offer – unconditional surrender. Their decision was then made known to and accepted sometimes reluctantly, by all the rebel garrisons still fighting both in the capital and in the provinces.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/

In total, the Rising cost 450 persons killed, 2,614 injured, and 9 missing, almost all in Dublin. The only significant action elsewhere was at Ashbourne, 10 miles north of Dublin. Military casualties were 116 dead, 368 wounded and 9 missing, and the Irish and Dublin police forces had 16 killed and 29 wounded. A total of 254 civilians died; the high figures were largely because much of the fighting had occurred in or near densely populated areas. It is widely accepted that 64 rebels lost their lives. Their casualties were low because in the capital they were the defending force. Moreover, they fought with discipline and skill until, acting under instruction from their leaders, they surrendered their strongholds rather than fight to the last volunteer. The few other insurgents in Co. Meath, Galway and Wexford joined in the surrender.

Sir John Maxwell, the British Commander-in-Chief caused sixteen of the Irish to be court-martialed and shot.  The execution of these men was an attempt to murder of the Provisional Government of Ireland.  Patrick Pearse was the first to be singled out for execution, he was not allowed to see his mother or brother before he was executed on May 3, 1916. One of Pearse’s most famous speeches was his eulogy at the funeral of O’Donnovan Rossa who died in 1915.
“They think they have forseen everything, but the fools! the fools! the fools! they have left us our Fenian dead; and while Ireland holds these graves “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.” Pearse’s Oration

Below are the six organizations involved in the Easter Rising of 1916:

The National Volunteers, The Citizens’ Army, The Hibernian Rifles, Fianna Éireann, Cumann na mBan and The Foresters

Following the formation of the Provisional Government, as outlined in the Proclamation, these organizations formally became known as Óglaigh na Éireann, otherwise known as the Irish Republican Army, under the command of James Connolly.

Benian, E. A., Cambridge History of the British Empire, London, 1959

Carrington, C. E., The British Overseas, Cambridge, 1950

Curtis, Edmund, A History of Ireland, New York: Barnes & Noble, 1961

Ireland, Tom.  Ireland Past and Present.  New York:  G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1942.

Larson, Lawrence, A History of England & the British Commonwealth, New York, 1932

MacDonagh, Oliver, Ireland, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 1968

MacManus, Seumas, Story of the Irish Race, New York, Devin-Adair, 1973

Russell, George, The Irish Home Rule Convention, New York,  1917

addtiional sources: http://www.bbc.co.uk


About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

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