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Easter Rebellion of 1916...A Legacy of Tears & Hunger...

By: Daniel Evon

  • The Easter Rising of 1916

1916 Irish Rebellion

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Few events in modern Irish history are as important as the Easter Rising of 1916. The 100th anniversary of the Rebellion was on April 24, 2016, and it evoked many memories and strong emotions all across Ireland. The roots of the Easter insurrection stretch back hundreds of years; for the Irish, there were just too many instances of British oppression throughout their history. In particular, the Acts of Union in 1800, where the Irish Parliament was abolished, and the country was formally made a part of the United Kingdom; it was an event that rankled many people in Ireland, especially the Catholic majority.

  • Michael Collins speaking about greater freedom and independence for the Irish people

Michael Collins Speaking in Skibbereen

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Toward the end of the 19th-century, many opposition movements sprang up in Ireland, and there was a strong push for Home Rule by the likes of Michael Collins and many others who sought greater freedom and independence for the Irish people. The Easter Rebellion was organized by a seven-man Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and a plan was hatched to stage a revolt while the British government was occupied with the fighting in Germany during World War I. The idea was that if the uprising was a success, the Germans might throw their weight behind the new Irish Republic and thus make it easier for the Republicans to succeed.

  • British Armour fighting Free State Soldiers in 1916

British Armour Fighting Free State Soldiers 1916

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The Rebellion began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, and lasted for six days. Members of the Irish Volunteers, led by activist Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and Thomas Clarke, joined with other groups to storm key locations in Dublin and proclaim the formation of an Irish Republic. The British Army was taken by surprise and had to call in reinforcements, as well as artillery. There were fierce battles in the streets, with house-to-house fighting and snipers on rooftops. As the week wore on and the British reinforcements arrived, the rebels became vastly outnumbered, with 1,600 of them against almost 19,000 British troops by Friday.

  • Easter Rising, Citizen Soliders

Easter Rising Citizen Soldiers

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The Rebels were hurt by poor communication, and mixed messages, Volunteer leader Eoin MacNeill had issued an order to halt the Rising before it started, which created confusion and kept some rebels on the sidelines. However, some rebel positions were able to hold on till Saturday, April 29. The area of North King Street, in particular, was the scene of much bloodshed, with British troops repeatedly cut down as they attempted to take the area. The South Staffordshire Regiment, which bore the brunt of this action, had 11 dead and 28 wounded on Saturday when the rebel headquarters surrendered.

  • Wounded Free State Soldier BeingTreated During The Fight

Wounded Free State Soldier Being Treated During The Fight

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Although it only lasted a week, the Rising was bloody. Even after the surrender, enraged British troops broke into houses and shot or bayoneted unarmed male civilians whom they accused of being rebel fighters. This added to the death toll for the week, which included 126 British soldiers, 82 rebels, and 260 civilians (including 40 children). The British government affected a swift punishment of the rebel leaders. All seven of the leaders who planned the Rising were executed. A total of 3,430 men and 79 women were arrested, although most were later released. Ninety people were sentenced to death, but most had their sentence commuted; a total of 16 men were executed for their role in the Rising. Many have heard of the seven men who signed the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, but we never hear about the women who were caught up in the extraordinary events of Easter 1916. Some of them were airbrushed out of history. This highlighted documentary reveals the astonishing stories of seven women who were at the heart of the Easter Rebellion.

  • Soldiers inspect the interior of the Dublin's General Post Office

Soldiers Inspect Interior of Dublin's General Post Office

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While the Easter Rising was a tragic and bloody event in Ireland’s history, and it failed to bring about the immediate goal of an Irish Republic, it paved the way for Michael Collins, the legendary IRA leader and father of the modern Irish State who became instrumental in helping Ireland to gain a large degree of independence from Great Britain several decades later. There were bumps along the road, including the Michael Collins assassination in August 1922, the Irish Civil War of 1922-23, when Irish republicans and nationalists fought over the creation of the Irish Free State, in which Ireland gained some independence but ultimately remained within the British Empire. In the end, however, the forces that were unleashed during the brief Easter Rising created a hunger for Irish independence that would not be denied until Ireland became a sovereign nation in 1937.

Watch Video: 1916 Irish Rebellion, Narrated by Liam Neeson

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