1916 Easter Uprising

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On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, a group of Irish nationalists proclaimed the establishment of the Irish Republic and, along with some 1,600 followers, staged a rebellion against the British government in Ireland. The rebels seized prominent buildings in Dublin and clashed with British troops. Within a week, the insurrection had been suppressed and more than 2,000 people were dead or injured. The leaders of the rebellion soon were executed. Initially, there was little support from the Irish people for the Easter Rising; however, public opinion later shifted and the executed leaders were hailed as martyrs. In 1921, a treaty was signed that in 1922 established the Irish Free State, which eventually became the modern-day Republic of Ireland.

The Easter Rising was intended to take place across Ireland; however, various circumstances resulted in it being carried out primarily in Dublin. On April 24, 1916, the rebel leaders and their followers (whose numbers reached some 1,600 people over the course of the insurrection, and many of whom were members of a nationalist organization called the Irish Volunteers, or a small radical militia group, the Irish Citizen Army), seized the city’s general post office and other strategic locations. Early that afternoon, from the steps of the post office, Patrick Pearse (1879-1916), one of the uprising’s leaders, read a proclamation declaring Ireland an independent republic and stating that a provisional government (comprised of IRB members) had been appointed.

Despite the rebels’ hopes, the public did not rise to support them. The British government soon declared martial law in Ireland, and in less than a week the rebels were crushed by the government forces sent against them. Some 450 people were killed and more than 2,000 others, many of them civilians, were wounded in the violence, which also destroyed much of the Dublin city center. Initially, many Irish people resented the rebels for the destruction and death caused by the uprising.

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Further Reading: History article on the 1916 Easter Rising