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Chapters

The 1916 Easter Rising

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date of the rebellion even after they learned that no outside help would materialise aside from the shipload of arms, which also did not materialise. He was unable to phrase the question even when the subject of the arms ship did arise. Pearse said, ' Those guns were not a gift you know. They were bought and paid for. ' He spoke as if he wanted to make it clear in everyones' mind that the rebellion was the work of Irishmen alone and that no outsiders had inspired it or even taken a significant part in it. ' If we accomplish nothing else, ' he said ' We shall at least breathe new life into the cause of Irish nationalism. ' For Pearse, that would be enough.

For most of the men in the Post office the pressure continued to mount. After a day of waiting, constantly on the alert, they hadn't even seen the enemy. It was worse than fighting. They hadn't slept the previous night and needn't count on sleeping this night, because as soon as they dozed, the attack was certain to begin. The British had no doubt been waiting for darkness to set in, and were gradually receiving more reinforcements by the hour.

The Provisional Government to the Citizens of Dublin. The Provisional Government of the Irish republic salutes the Citizens of Dublin on the momentous occasion of the proclamation of a SOVEREIGN INDEPENDENT IRISH STATE. now in the course of being established by Irishmen in arms. The Republican forces hold the lines taken up at Twelve noon on Easter Monday, and nowhere, despite fierce and almost continuous attacks of the British troops have the lines been broken through. The country is rising in answer to Dublin's call, and the final achievment of Ireland's freedom is now, with God's help, only a matter of days. The valour, self-sacrifice, and discipline of Irish men and women are about to win for our country a glorious place among the nations.

Ireland's honour has already been redeemed; it remains to vindicate her wisdom and her self-control. All citizens of Dublin, who believe in the right of their country to be free will give their allegiance and their loyal help to the Irish Republic. There is work for everyone; for the men in the fighting line, and for the women in the provision of food and first aid. Every Irishman and Irishwoman worthy of the name will come forward to help their common country in this her supreme hour. Able-bodied citizans can help by building barricades in the streets to oppose the advance of British troops. The British troops have been firing on our women and on our Red Cross. On the other hand, Irish Regiments in the British Army have refused to act against their fellow countrymen. The Provisional Government hopes that its supporters, which means the vast bulk of people of Dublin - will preserve order and self restraint. Such looting as has already occurred has been done by hangers-on of the British Army. Ireland must keep her new honour unsmirched.

We have lived to see an Irish republic proclaimed. May we live to establish it firmly, and may our children and our children's children enjoy the happiness and prosperity which freedom will bring.

Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government: P. H Pearse

Commanding in Chief of the Forces of the Irish Republic and
President of the Provisional Government.

A fanciful document but an understandable one, coming from a commander in such circumstances. To acknowledge the situation as it actually existed would be to admit there was no hope and no point in continuing. For the sake of his troops as well as the populance, he had to let his imagination overrule the facts; nor was it difficult for a man like Pearse to do so. Completely goverened, as he was by his dream, he could easily believe every word he had written. As for those sections of the manifesto suggesting order and self restraint to the populance, he may as well have saved his words. That part of the populance to whom he was addressing himself became bored even before he finished reading and began drifting off up the street in search of new shops to loot. Pearse himself returned to the Post Office, where, shortly after midnight, he was confronted by depressing evidence of the wishfulness of his words. Sixty-six men, routed by the British from the subub of Fairview, arrived at headquarters for rest and reassignment. They got very little rest. First, Pearse addressed them in the public office just inside the main entrance. ' Dublin, by rising in arms, had redeemed its honour. ' he said. ' It has redeemed an honour forfeited in 1803, when it failed to support the rebellion of Robert Emmet. ' After listening to Pearse, the men were macrhed upstairs to the commissary, where they were served huge slabs of cake. Then they were divided into three parties, the first of which was dispatched to the Imperial hotel on the other side of Sackville Street, and the second to the Metropole Hotel just across Prince's Street, while the third was kept in the Post office. Connolly, who had taken charge of the reassignment, designated a lieutenant named Oscar Traynor as commander of the Metropole detachment. Traynor was reluctant ' I'm not qualified for the job, ' he said. Connolly stood directly in front of him and stared at him fixedly.
' Is it enough, ' he said, ' that i tell you you're qualified? ' Traynor saluted, called the men to attention, and marched them away. It appeared now that

would come on, wave after wave, as they had at countless other battles on the Western front, those in charge caring nothing for their losses, which would be enormous. They might eventually prevail, thanks to their overwhelming numbers, but before they did, they would know the full fury of Irish bravery. At every window two or three riflemen crouched, and behind the riflemen, more men, sometimes women, with grenades in hand. Old Tom Clarke grabbed a gun and chose a window. At last he was going to get some of his own back for those fifteen painful, almost maddening years of hunder and silence and solitary confinement in British prisons. Through the raindrops, softly falling now, 200 pairs of eyes peered out, scanning the dimly lit streets, expecting at any moment to see a wave of onrushing khaki. Rifle barrels turned toward each sound in the night. And whn at last footsteps were heard on the pavement, the tension became almost explosive. Then suddenly a man, alone, came around the corner and walked toward the Post Office across Henry Street. For a moment his life wasn't worth a farthing as dozens of guns zeroed in on him. But just in time someone shouted, ' Hold your fire, boys, it's Sean O'Kelly, ' and his friends laughed as little Sean came running into the building. He had been to Parnell Square and found no British there. The letdown spread through the Post Office as this word circulated. Just another false alarm. Impatient mutterings arose. Men put down their guns, stood up, and stretched, cursed the British. They began moving away from the windows, calling for light as they stumbled over each other in the dark.

Howmany more times would they be routed out of sleep and sent to the windows to wait for nothing? The grumbling did not last long. The men were too tired. They stretched out and tried again to sleep. But only a few had managed it before they were rushing once more to the windows. The other scouts had begun returning, all with the same information. The British were indeed, coming. They were approaching Parnell Square in force, though they had not yet arrived there. And they were undoubtedly ready to attack. Again Connolly called an alert. Again the tention mounted. But again the British took their time. They arrived at Parnell Square just out of sight of the Post office. They stopped to study the situation. They deployed their forces. To Connolly's scouts, they showed every sign that they were preparing to advance. Yet the minutes passed into hours without their moving forward. And as dawn approached 200 exasperated, sleepless, red-eyed insurgents were still staring out from the windows of the GPO, watching for khaki.