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Chapters

The 1916 Easter Rising

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And so it Begins . . .

' Fifty-seven tuppeny fares ' the officer said to the conductor ' and don't stop until we reach O'Connell Bridge ' Thus began the first successful revolution in twentieth-century Europe, the 1916 Easter uprising, when a half-trained army bearing pikes, old rifles, and home-made grenades, and led by poets and intellectuals, marched on Dublin's General Post Office and took on the might of the most powerful empire the world had yet seen. This pitiful band of revolutionaries, though scorned by most of their fellow Irishmen, were convinced that through their defeat and deaths they would arouse the Irish people to a victorious fight for independence. Amazingly they were right, and out of the ' agony of Easter ' in 1916, came a resurgence of the Irish nationalism which led ultimately to Irish Independence.

The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by by Irish republicans with the aim of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798. Organised by the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Rising lasted from Easter Monday 24th April to the 30th April 1916. Members of the Irish Volunteers - lead by schoolteacher and barrister Padraig ( Patrick ) Pearse, joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly, along with 200 members of Cumann na mBan - seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed the Irish Republic independent of Britain. There were some actions in the other parts of Ireland, however, except for the attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks at Ashbourne, County Meath, they were minor. The Rising was surpressed after seven days of fighting, and its leaders were court-martialled and executed, but it succeeded in bringing physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics. In the 1918 General Election to the British Parliament, Republicans ( then represented by the Sinn Fein Party ) won 73 seats out of the 105 on a policy

included people with wide views, and the Volunteer's ranks were open to ' all able-bodied Irishmen without distinction of creed, politics or social group. ' Another militant group, the Irish Citizen Army, was formed by the trade unionists as a result of the Dublin Lockout of that year. However the increasing militarisation if Irish politics was overshadowed soon after by the outbreak of a larger conflict - the Great War, and Ireland's involvement in the conflict. Though large numbers of Irishmen had willingly joined both Irish and English regiments of the the New British Army at the outbreak of the war i 1914, the likelihood of enforced conscription created a backlash - particularly as the Government of Ireland Act 1914- as previously recommended in March by the Irish Convention - was controversially linked with a ' dual policy ' enactment of the Military Service Bill. The linking of conscription and Home Rule outraged the Irish nationalist parties at Westminster ( including IPP, AFIL and others ) who walked out in protest and returned to Ireland to organise opposition.

Planning the Rising

The Supreme Council of the IRB met on the 5th September 1914, a month after the British government had declared war on Germany. At this meetiing they decided to stage a rising befor the war ended and to accept whatever help Germany might offer. Responsibility of the planning of the rising was given to Tom Clark and Sean MacDermott. The Irish Volunteers - the smaller of the two forces resulting from the September 1914 split over support for the British war effort - set up a ' headquarters ' staff that included Patrick Pearse as Director of Military Organisation, Joseph Plunkett as Director of Military Operations and Thomas MacDonagh as Director of Military Oreganisation, Joseph Plunkett as Director of Military Operations and Thoams MacDonagh as Director of Training. Eamonn Ceannt was later added as Director of Communications. In May 1915, Clarke and MacDermott

established a Military Committee with the Irish Republican Brotherhood, consisting of Pearse, Plunkett and Ceannt, to draw up plans for a rising. This dual role allowed the Committe. to which Clarke and MacDermott added themselves shortly afterward, to promote their own policies and personnel independently of both the Volunteer Executive and the IRB Executive - in particular Volunteer Chief of Staff Eoin MacNeill who was opposed to a rising uless popular support was secured by the introduction of conscription or an attempt to surpress the Volnteers or its leaders, and IRB President Denis McCullough, who held similar views. The IRB members held officer rank in the Volunteers throughout the country and would take their orders from the Military Committee, not from MacNeill. Plunkett had travelled to Germany in April 1915 to join Roger Casement. Casement had gone there from the United States the previous year with the support of Clan na Gael leader John Devoy, and after discussions with the German Ambassador in Washington, Count von Bernstorff, to try and recruit an ' Irish Brigade ' from among Irish prisoners of war and secure German support for Irish Independence. Together Plunkett and Casement presented a plan which involved a German expeditionary force landing on the west coast of Ireland, while a rising in Dublin diverted the British forces so that the Germans, with the help of local Volunteers, could secure the line of the River Shannon.

James Connolly, head of the Irish Citizen Army ( ICA ) a group of armed socialist trade union men and women - was unaware of the IRB's plans, and threatened to start a rebellion on his own if other parties failed to act. If they had gone it alone, the IRB and the Volunteers would possibly have to come to their aid; however, the IRB leaders met with Connolly in January 1916 and convinced him to join forces with them. They agreed to act together the follwing Easter and made Connolly the sixth member of the Military Committee. Thomas MacDonagh would later become the seventh and final member of the Committee.

Ireland on a German U-boat and was captured upon landing at Banna Strand in Tralee Bay. The arms shipment - aboard the German ship Aud (disguised as a Norwegian fishing trawler ) had been scuttled after interception by the Royal Navy, after the local Volunteers had failed to rendezvous with it. The following day, MacNeill, reverted to his original position when he found out that the ship carrying the arms had been scuttled. With the support of other leaders of like mind, notably Bulmer Hobson and The O'Rahilly, he issued a countermand to all Volunteers, cancelling all actions for Sunday. This only succeeded in putting the rising off for a day, although it greatly reduced the number of Volunteers who turned out.

British Naval Intelligence had been aware of the arms shipment. casements return and the Easter date for the rising through radio messages between Germany and its embassy in the United States that were intercepted by the Navy and deciphered on Room 40 of the Admiralty. The information was passed to the Under-Secretary for Ireland, Sir Matthew Nathan, on 17th April, ut without revealing its source, and Nathan was doubtful about its accuracy. When news reached Dublin of the capture of the Aud and the arrest of Casement, Nathan conferred with the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Wimborne. Nathan proposed to raid Liberty Hall, headquarters of the Citizen Army, and Volunteer properties at Father Matthew Park, and at Kimmage, but Wimborne was insisting the wholesale arrests of the leaders. It was decided to postpone action until after Easter Monday, and in the meantime, Nathan telegraphed the Chief Secretary, Augustine Birrell, in London seeking his approval. By the time Birrell capled his reply authorising the action, at noon on Monday 24th April 1916, the Rising had already begun.

Proclamation of the Irish Republic

The Proclamation of the Republic, also known as the 1916 Proclamation or Easter Proclamation was a document issued by the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rising in Ireland, which began of the 24th April 1916. In it, the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, styling itself the ' Provisional Government of the Irish Republic ' proclaimed Ireland's independence from Britain. The reading of the Proclamtion by Patrick Pearse outside the General Post Office ( GPO ) on Sackville Street ( now called O'Connell Street ) Dublin's main thoroughfare, marked the beginning of the Rising. The proclamation was modelled on a similar independence proclamation issued during the 1803 rebellion by Robert Emmet. Before reading the proclamation, Pearse and other Republican leaders seized the GPO and made it their military headquarters, flying the new flag ( right ) of the Republic from the flag-pole instead of the Union Flag of Britain. The green, white and orange tricolour ( which later came to be seen as the flag of the repulic, replacing the original green flag, which is now on display in the National Museum of Ireland ) are the most

irish republic flag

identifiable symbols of the Easter Rising, alongside the leaders, Thomas J. Clark, Sean Mac Diarmada, Thomas MacDonagh, P. H Pearse, Eamonn Ceannt, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett. Though the Rising failed in military terms, the principles of the Proclamation to varying degrees influenced the thinking of later generations of Irish politicians. The Proclamation had been printed secretly prior to the Rising on a Summit Wharfedale Stop Cylinder Press. Because of its secret printing problems arose which affected the layout and design. In particular, because of a shortage of lettering, the document was printed in two halves, leading to a proliferation of ' half copies ' most of which were destroyed by British soldiers in the aftermath of the Rising. The typesetters were Willie O'Brien, Michael Molly and Christopher Brady. They lacked a sufficient supply of same size and font letters, and as a result the latter half of the document used smaller es than the rest of the text, a distinctive features of the document.