Monday, 14 November 2011

Easter Rising 1916

Easter Rising 1916

This post explains what happened in the Irish Rebellion 1916 also known as the Easter Rising 1916. The supreme council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood called together all the leaders of the various progressive parties, and at this meeting agreed that the Second World War which was occupying Britain’s efforts, was a good opportunity for a rising against the British.  Thomas Clarke led this instigation and was strongly supported by Patrick Pearse, Sean McDiarmada, Sean O’Ceallaigh and Eamonn Ceannt.

They were to be joined later by Joseph Plunkett, James Connolly and Thomas McDonagh.

Philomena Plunkett was sent to New York with a message to be sent to Germany.  This message read that “The arms must not be landed before the night of Easter Sunday, 23 April.  This vital. Smuggling impossible.”

Not all of the Irish Volunteers answered the call by Redmond to join the war effort and regrouped under Eoin MacNeill who believed it was important that the Volunteers miantained their strength at home.  Griffith and Connolly refused to fight on the grounds that it was an English war and Ireland had no dispute with Germany.

Easter Rising 1916 Patrick Pearse

Patrick Pearse Easter Rising 1916
Patrick Pearse was a key influencer at this time and had since joining the Gaelic League in 1896, promoted and maintained the promotion of its aims, to educate and improve the lot of Irish literature.  He had formed an Irish-medium school and had written many stories and poems in the Irish language.  His father was an Englishman and his mother an Irish woman from County Meath.  He graduated from the Royal University of Dublin and although called to the bar, never practised.  He also founded Sain Enda’s Irish Language School at Rathmines, just outside Dublin.

In the weeks leading up to the planned rising at Easter, the Irish Volunteers and the Citizen Army held parades, hoping to enlist support.  The IRB had received many pledges of support and expected that when the day came they could have the active support of around 10,000 people.  Events however appeared to conspire against this actually happening. These are the Easter rising facts and not often told correctly in history books. Due to lack of communication with the leader of the volunteers and a general misunderstanding the rising was not as effective as it could have been.

Although Eoin MacNeill was the leader of the Volunteers he had until the Thursday before the planned Easter Rising, been kept in the dark as those plotting the rising feared that he would not have given his support.  When he did discover and fearing that his volunteers would be hopelessly outnumbered, he gave orders to cancel all planned manoeuvres.  In addition to this a German ship called “The Aud” which was bringing arms was captured.  Sir Roger Casement who had been in Germany organising support was also captured in County Kerry when he landed from a U-boat.  Eoin MacNeill re-issued his orders to cancel all activities.

The IRB leaders remained determined to carry on and advised their supporters that the rising would begin on Easter Monday.  Normal activity was taking place in Dublin that day and people watched as volunteers marched through Dublin, assembled at Liberty Hall, and then dispersed to various places throughout the city.  They seized a number of strong points which included the General Post Office at O’Connell Street in Dublin.

Easter Rising 1916 - Irish Proclamation of Independence.

From the steps there Pearse read to an indifferent and bemused crowd, “The Proclamation of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic.”

This had been signed by Clarke, McDiarmada, MacDonagh, Pearse, Ceannt Connolly and Plunkett.  While this was going on the volunteers failed to capture Dublin Castle and the telephone exchange, and when the authorities were alerted they instantly summonsed reinforcements.
When they arrived the fighting intensified and artillery was introduced.  That meant the 2,000 participants in the Rising were now trapped in positions and were isolated as little support was actually given from the common people.  As a result of this the rebel positions grew more and more isolated.

A British gun-boat came up the Liffey River and began to shell the GPO.  Throughout Ireland there was little or no support for the rising and the government responded by declaring a state of martial law.  General Maxwell arrived from England and took control of the British troops and continued the artillery barage.

Less than a week later the Easter Rising was over and many deaths and casualties had occurred.  Central Dublin which had been pounded by artillery was in ruins.  500 civilians had lost there life and had nothing to do with the Rising.  Pearse surrendered on 29th April 1916.

Easter Rising 1916 Executions

After this in a series of Court Martials, fifteen leaders of the rising were found guilty and executed by firing squad.  Connolly, who had been wounded in battle, was tied to a chair before his execution.

This met with public revulsion and Ireland now had its latest set of martyrs.  Over 3,400 were arrested and half of these were either interned in England or Wales.  From these camps they continued to plan a new onslaught on Britain.
A sixteenth person was then executed in London for his part in the Easter Rising.  Sir Roger Casement was hanged as a traitor on 3rd August 1916.

Easter Rising 1916 - Those Spared from Execution

Two senior members who avoided execution were the Countess Markievicz and Eamon de Valera.  The Countess was spared as she was a woman and de Valera had his sentence reduced to life imprisonment so as not to create anger in America, where he had been born.

De Valera was released from prison in June 1917, along with some others involved in the Easter Rising.  De Valera had been born to an Irish mother and a Spanish father in America and when his father died he was sent to his mother’s family in County Limerick.
Sinn Fein

In 1917, Sinn Fein decided to create a central point of control and to agree a comprehensive set of policies and they held their first conference (Ard-Fheis) on the 25th October. One of these policies was to secure the International recognition of Ireland as an independent Irish nation, something most likely introduced by De Valera.

With the execution of the leaders, the mood of the country had changed and Redmond’s Labour party were now a spent force.  The other leaders of the IRB who had been in prison had found much time for planning and they formulated a plan to promote Sinn Fein as the political wing of the IRB.  Sinn Fein won several by-elections and De Valera was elected MP for East Clare.  He took over from Griffiths as the leader of Sinn Fein and was also made President of the Irish Volunteers.

Here is a link to Irish History Michael Collins IRA