Irish people during the Easter Uprising - Public Domain

The Easter Rising

Irish people during the Easter Uprising - Public Domain

par Guide Irlande

The Easter Uprising, refers to an Irish revolt, which took place in Dublin in April 1916. Also known as the “Bloody Easter”, it was organized by armed republican and nationalist groups, wishing to drive the British out of Ireland .

History of the Easter Uprising…

1910s: the republican nationalist struggle intensifies

The Irish Republican Army - Public domain

The Irish Republican Army – Public domain

After a heavy political conflict between the Irish and the British, the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) decided on 16 January 1916 to organise a massive insurrection against the British.

As the First World War rages on in Europe, the organization contacts Germany to negotiate a large supply of weapons. The agreement is quickly concluded, and the German cargo ship “Aud” is due to arrive for Easter, with a cargo of more than 20,000 rifles on board.

However, a British patrol boat stops the freighter: the captain scuttles his ship and surrenders to the British authorities, leaving the Irish to face the sight of these 20,000 rifles lying at the bottom of the water.

The Revolt is announced for April 24, 1916

But this did not discourage them: they somehow managed to obtain weapons and decided to start the revolt on April 24, when 120 members of the Irish Citizen Army and 700 of the Irish Volunteers Force marched in O’Connell Street.

The IRB therefore decided to attack, and occupied the Central Post Office, the Four Courts, Mendicity Institute, Jacobs Biscuit Factory, Bolands Mills, and Westland Row Station. The women, for their part, aim to steal as much food as possible, as well as medicine to treat the future wounded…

This strategy is skillfully orchestrated by 9 leaders:

The insurrection quickly ran out of steam..

Insurrection de Pâques - Public domain

This insurrection is particularly violent but less consequent than the IRB had hoped: despite the surprise effect, the uprising is not general in Dublin, and the Irish provinces are far from multiplying their actions. The bulk of the battle took place in Dublin: the IRB managed to repel the British assaults, and attacked some barracks.

Overwhelmed by this surprise revolt, the British then decided to contact by telephone units stationed in Curragh, Belfast, Athlone and Templemore, in order to mobilize them towards Dublin.

On Tuesday 25 April, Patrick Pearse proclaims the Republic of Ireland, and broadcasts the success of the uprising. However, the British did not say their last word: their counter-attack did a lot of damage and the long-awaited units endangered the Irish assaults.

The insurrection lasted only 6 days: the Irish were quickly defeated by the British, who were superior in number and much better armed.

On 29 April 1916, Patrick Pearse, then President of the Irish Provisional Government, was forced to declare a cessation of fighting. The unconditional re-issue was signed the same day.

Post-insurgency: a disastrous human toll and executions as an example

In its totality, the Insurrection caused more than 400 deaths, including 318 civilians, against 60 to 80 insurgents. 2,614 men and women were also wounded, including 2,217 civilians.

But the story doesn’t end there… At the end of this terrible day, the British decide to set an example to dissuade the Irish from trying to rebel again. To this end, the British army chose to arrest 3,430 men and 79 women in Dublin, and about 2,000 people in England and Wales.

The courts-martial then handed down up to 90 death sentences, and severely judged the main leaders and leaders of the insurgency. Thus, in May 1916, 15 men, including 7 members of the government, were shot dead in Kilmainham Gaol prison, including :

However, Eamon de Valera was simply imprisoned: his American nationality protected him from summary execution.

Since that date, the Irish have commemorated the Easter Uprising every year, and consider it a true symbol, having allowed them to accede later to the (partial) independence of their country…

Still so much to discover!


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