The Easter Rising was launched in Dublin on April 24, 1916 in an attempt to overthrow British rule in Ireland, beginning a process that would eventually lead to the war of independence, the civil war and ultimately the freedom of the Irish republic ( though minus the six counties.) This rebellion was known as the Easter Rising. The background to the rebellion was the centuries of national oppression suffered and felt by Irish people by under British.domination and rule, and the intensification of the national question around the issue of home rule ( limited self-governmet for Ireland within the United Kingdom )
Three groups were behind the rising, but the most important was the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) which was formed in the mid-19th century.Thomas Clarke and Seán Mac Dermot were the key figures in the IRB, which had been recruiting among Irish nationalists in Dublin ., many of whom were disillusioned to the extent of Ireland's support for Britain in the First World War.
The Irish Volunteers were a military group formed in 1913 and its members accounted for the largest number of men who were called out on Easter Monday.
The Irish Citizen Army, a socialist militia, led by James Connolly https://teifidancer-teifidancer.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/james-connolly-working-class-hero.html formed to protect striking miners in 1913 also played an important role.
The key group was a seven-man IRB military council, drawn from those three organisations, which planned the Easter Rising with complete secrecy.They were Tom Clarke, Sean McDermot, Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Joseph Plunkett, James Connolly and Eamon Ceannt.
By 1914, the division over Home Rule had taken Ireland to the brink of civil war. Unionists had founded a 100,000 strong militia, the Ulster Volunteer Force, to resist its implementation, while moderate nationalists set up the Irish Volunteer Force in response.
But the outbreak of the First World War would see the two sides rally to the war effort,, which saw the majority of both militia enlisting in the British Army, making up a large compound of the 210,00 Irishmen who served. However a huge amount of around 13,000 dissident Irish volunteers remained in Ireland, rejecting the war.
The decision to rise was based on the traditional dictum that England's difficulty was Ireland's opportunity. But it also reflected the military council's fear that Irish nationalism was in decline, a concern reinforced by popular Irish nationalist support for the aims of the Irish Parliamentary Party and the British war effort.
On 23 April, the council agreed to proceed with the rising the next day, Easter Monday.
The drafting of a proclamation declaring a republic was one of the final steps taken by those who planned the rising. It decided that the proclamation should be read to the public outside Dublin's General Post Office (GPO) by the president of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic. It was agreed that Pádraig Pearse a poet and educator should act as president, and
Connolly as commander in chied, who in the run up to and during the rising itself, made political concessions to the forces of nationalism he was fighting alongside, setting aside some of the ideas and methods he had so carefully developed during decades of revolutionary activity. This is best reflected in the Proclamation he put his name to, which is, notwithstanding the positives sentiments it contains, is a nationalist document.
Shortly after noon on Easter Monday, Pearse accompanied by an armed guard, stood on the steps of the GPO and read the proclamation, signalling the beginning of the Easter Rising.
Ireland's 'national right to freedom and sovereignty' was asserted, which was partly based on Robert Emmet’s proclamation of Irish independence of 1803, enshrined equal suffrage and equal rights. It spoke of “religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens” and “cherishing all children of the nation equally”.
The conflict that followed was largely confined to Dublin. The rising itself seemed doomed from the beginning. With only a small number of fighters the rebels were militarily significantly outnumbered and outgunned. The rebellion was largely confined to the fighting in the four courts and General Post Office in Dublin although there was also support from rebel forces in Galway and Wexford. As the week progressed, the fighting in some areas became more intense, leading to several prolonged, fiercely contested street battles. Military casualties were highest at Mount Street Bridge and fierce fighting also took place at South Dublin Union and North King Street. The suppression of the rising was immediate with martial law being declared on April 25 1916.
Under supreme Commander in Dublin Major General John Maxwell , the British forces had authority to punish the risings participants. They were determined to suppress and crush the new wave of Irish militant nationalism, arresting and rounding up many in the aftermath, along with leaders as well as suspected supporters in a nationwide sweep, aided by police. Over the following week, the British deployed over 16,000 troops, artillery and even a naval gunboat into the city at Liffey to suppress the rising.After five days of fierce fighting and the rebel headquarters at the GPO being heavily bombarded, Pearse surrendered unconditionally to prevent the further slaughter of unarmed people of Dublin , realising that his own forces were surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered.
A total of 450 people were killed during the rebellion, 2,614 were injured, More than 3,430 men and 79 women were arrested, over twice the number of people that had actually taken part in the actual rising.As far as Mawell was concerned the ringleaders of the rebellion and their supporters were guilty of treason in a time of war. It should be noted that the First World War, was taking place at the same time, and they should recieve the ultimate penalty - death. But the tremendous courage and self-sacrifice displayed by the likes of James Connolly and indeed the others who fought in the rising cannot be disputed.
Connolly was imprisoned, and despite his severe wounds, was tied to a chair and executed by the British military on May 12th 1916 by firing squad to the outrage of many people in Ireland and across the world.
With the subsequent execution of 15 of the leaders it would sow a wave of resentment, prompted by the general feeling that unnecessary severity had been deployed ,proving a catalyst in changing public opinion into away from a desire for Home rule and a demand for a fully Independent Irish Republic.
Even though the rising was thwarted five days later and Irish independence would not happen until 1923, many believe that the actions that began that Easter Monday helped inspire similar rebellions in more distant parts of the British Empire, and internment camps such as Frongoch in North Wales became known as the University of Revolution. which would see a total of at least 30 men held here going on to become MPs in the new Irish parliament in Dublin that would be formed.
By the summer of 1916 the rebel leaders were viewed as heroes, and by January 1919 when a more concerted war for Independence broke out the huge impact of the Easter Rising would be seen. Sadly the vision of these brave men and women who had risen, has not been fully realised with fostering divisions, Britain's continuing claim to sovereignty over six counties in the north east of Ireland, and the failure to actually achieve a united Irish republic, means that the dream is still not complete, a conundrum than many still find troubling to this day.
The birth of the Irish Republic - Walter Paget
Earlier piece written on the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising :-