The Easter Rising Essay

8363 words - 34 pages

The Easter Rising

In Ireland 1916, there was an event known as The Easter Rising. The roots of the Rising lie in the ‘new nationalism’ which emerged in Ireland from the 1890s. Its most significant outcome was the rejuvenation of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). This small, underground, revolutionary body planned and directed the insurrection in 1916. The truly dynamic element was a tiny minority within this organization; they were acting on the old republican principle: ‘England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity’. In August 1915, this group formed the IRB Military Council. It was eventually composed of seven members – Thomas Clarke, Sean MacDermott, Patrick Pearse, Eamonn ...view middle of the document...

However, they did form an alliance with James Connolly, the revolutionary socialist and commander of the Irish Citizen Army. During 1915, the rebel leaders’ preparations for a rising were gathering momentum. Their plan was centered on an insurrection in Dublin; to be supported by munitions, and hopefully troops from Germany, which were to be landed on the coast of County Kerry. Meanwhile, leadership positions within the IVF were successfully infiltrated, both in Dublin and elsewhere, and its rank and file members trained in street-fighting techniques. By January 1916 the Military Council had set the date for a rising – initially Good Friday, 21st April 1916, later changed to Easter Sunday, 23rd April. Their revolutionary intentions were to be masked behind publicly advertised and apparently routine maneuvers arranged for that day. On 19th April, IVF commandants were given details of the plan for insurrection, despite the risk of this information leaking to those members who opposed it or to the British authorities. Disaster threatened when MacNeill received confirmation of their true intentions on 21st April. After initial hesitation, he issued countermand orders cancelling the now publicized maneuvers for Easter Sunday, by placing a note to this effect in that morning’s edition of the Sunday Independent. By then news had reached Dublin that the ship transporting German arms to Ireland had been captured (21 April). In confusion and despair, the Military Council members met in emergency session on Sunday morning, 23rd April, to consider their options. They decided to proceed with the rising next day with such forces as they could muster. Traditionally, Irish revolutionary nationalists have looked to England’s enemies for aid. So when a number of them met in Dublin on 9th September 1914 to discuss the circumstances arising from the outbreak of war, they agreed to appeal to Germany for its support in an insurrection. Clan na Gael, a republican organization of Irish-Americans in the United States, was to provide the rebels with their main channel of communication with Germany. Already on 24th August 1914 its leader, John Devoy, had met the German ambassador in New York, stressed to him the opportunities for an Irish rising and requested arms and military personnel for this purpose. Roger Casement was the central figure in developing the rebels` relations with Germany. He had been born in Sandycove, near Dublin, in 1864, the son of a British army officer, and for 20 years had served in the British consular service. He had then gained an international reputation for exposing European colonial exploitation of native peoples in Africa and South America. He had meanwhile become increasingly absorbed in militant Irish nationalist politics and attracted by the potential of an Irish-German alliance as a means of securing full Irish independence. He was in the US when the war began and at once submitted a plan to German officials there, outlining how...

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