The Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was a rebellion that took place between 24th and 30th April 1916; the main events occurred in Dublin.
There were 1,200 rebels involved in the rising. Most belonged to the nationalist Irish Volunteers, the socialist Irish Citizen Army, or the all-female Cumman na mBan. The Irish Volunteers was established in 1913 in response to the obstruction of Home Rule by the Ulster Volunteers. The Citizen Army was originally formed to protect strikers from the police during the 1913 Dublin Lockout. Cumman na mBan, initially an auxiliary of the Irish Volunteers, was founded in 1914.
The Rising was planned surreptitiously by seven individuals: Tom Clarke, Sean McDermott, Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh, Joseph Plunkett, James Connolly, and Eamon Ceannt. They arranged for arms to be delivered to Dublin from Germany on Good Friday 1916, but their plan was foiled when the shipment was discovered by British officials. The plans for the Rising were revealed to the Irish Volunteers’s Chief-of-Staff, who tried to call off the rebellion. Despite the attempt to stop it, the rising went ahead, commencing one day later than planned.
The Main Events
The rebels declared an Irish Republic with Patrick Pearse as President and James Connolly as Commander-in-Chief. They occupied positions around Dublin, including the General Post Office (GPO), the Four Courts, the South Dublin Union, Boland’s Mill, Stephen’s Green and Jacobs’ Biscuit Factory. Although the GPO became the Rising headquarters, some of the most brutal riots took place elsewhere, at Mount Street Bridge, South Dublin Union and North King Street. There were also revolts in county Galway, Enniscorthy in Wexford and Ashbourne in county Meath.
The British retaliated, deploying a 16,000-strong force to suppress the rising. Over the course of week-long rebellion, around 450 people were killed and more than 2,000 wounded. On Friday 28th April Patrick Pearse ordered the GPO-based rebels to surrender. Fighting continued elsewhere for the next couple of days.
Fourteen rebel leaders (including all seven instigators) were executed by firing squad between 3rd and 12th May. Over 3,000 rebel fighters were arrested and over 1,400 imprisoned in jails across Ireland, Wales, and England.
There was little support for the rebels amongst the general Dublin public, and the Irish Parliamentary Party condemned the Rising. However, due to the continued suspension of Home Rule talks and the increasing numbers Irish fatalities in First World War, the Rising helped to foster radicalism, especially within the Sinn Féin party. Although Sinn Féin did not participate in the Rising, the party was adopted as a vehicle by the Easter rebels. Sinn Féin went on to win the general election in 1918. They declared an Irish Republic and prompted the Irish War of Independence.
Above: Sackville Street (now O'Connell Street), Dublin, after the Easter Rising