The 1916 Easter Rising
The Easter Rebellion, was an armed uprising of Irish nationalists against the rule of Great Britain in Ireland. The uprising occurred on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, and centred mainly in Dublin. The chief objectives were the attainment of political freedom and the establishment of an Irish republic. Centuries of discontent, marked by numerous rebellions, preceded the uprising. The new crisis began to develop in September 1914, following the outbreak of World War I, when the British government suspended the recently enacted Home Rule Bill, which guaranteed a measure of political autonomy to Ireland. Suspension of the bill stimulated the growth of the Citizen Army, an illegal force of Dublin citizens organised by the labour leader Jim Larkin (died 1948) and the socialist James Connolly (1870-1916); of the Irish Volunteers, a national defence body; and of the extremist Sinn Féin. The uprising was planned by leaders of these organisations, among whom were the British consular agent Sir Roger David Casement, the educator Padhraic Pearse (1879-1916), and the poet Thomas MacDonagh (1878-1916). Hostilities began about noon on April 24, when about 2000 men led by Pearse seized control of the Dublin post office and other strategic points within the city. Shortly after these initial successes, the leaders of the rebellion proclaimed the Independence of Ireland and announced the establishment of a provisional government of the Irish Republic. Additional positions were occupied by the rebels during the night, and by the morning of April 25 they controlled a considerable part of Dublin. The counteroffensive by British forces began on Tuesday with the arrival of reinforcements. Martial law was proclaimed throughout Ireland. Bitter street fighting developed in Dublin, during which the strengthened British forces steadily dislodged the Irish from their positions. By the morning of April 29, the post office building, site of the rebel headquarters, was under violent attack. Recognising the futility of further resistance, Pearse surrendered unconditionally in the afternoon of April 29. The British immediately brought the leaders of the uprising to trial before a field court-martial. Fifteen of the group, including Pearse, Connolly, and MacDonagh, were sentenced to death and executed by firing squad. Four others, including the American-born Eamon de Valera, received death sentences that were later commuted to life imprisonment, although de Valera and some others were granted amnesty the next year. Casement was convicted of treason and hanged. Many others prominently connected with the rebellion were sentenced to long prison terms. The uprising was the first of a series of events that culminated in the establishment of the Irish Free State (predecessor of the Republic of Ireland) in 1921. Casualties were about 440 British troops and an estimated 75 Irish (below are their names). Property damage included the destruction of about 200 buildings in Dublin.
The seven signatories of the Irish Proclamation (from the left): Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Sean MacDermott, Joseph Plunkett & Eamonn Ceannt
Irish liberation from British rule was achieved as the result of a struggle extending over several centuries and marked by numerous rebellions. Following the Easter Rebellion, an uprising of Irish nationalists on Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, Sinn Féin became the most influential political party in Ireland. This party, founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, a Dublin journalist, campaigned in the parliamentary election of 1918 on a program that called for the severance of all ties with Great Britain, an end to the separatist movement in northern Ireland, and the establishment of an Irish republic. Candidates of Sinn Féin won 73 of the 106 seats allotted to Ireland in the British Parliament.
The Irish Revolution (1919-22)