It was on Easter Monday, almost a hundred years ago, that seven men began the uprising that eventually lead to the freedom of the Irish people, a nation of people who had been subjected to genocide by the British.
On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, seven men read a proclamation from the steps of the General Post Office which they occupied. It became their headquarters.
The Proclamation demanded Ireland become a national democracy which ‘guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and [which] declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.’
They declared a revolution, raised the tricolor, and fought off the British army. The rebellion lasted a week.
The insurgents wanted an Ireland where all people could be free to accomplish their potential regardless of wealth, class or religion.
They believed that this could only be achieved through complete independence from the Crown.
The signatories were Thomas J. Clarke, Sean MacDiarmada, P.H. Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas MacDonagh, Eamonn Ceannt and Joseph Plunkett.
The insurgents occupied other strategic buildings in Dublin and in four other counties.
Fighting lasted a week and resulted in the deaths of over 250 civilians, 130 members of the crown forces and over 60 insurgents.
To avoid further bloodshed, Pearse declared an unconditional surrender which read “ In order to prevent further slaughter of the civil population and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, the members of the Provisional Government present at headquarters have decided on an unconditional surrender, and commandants or officers commanding districts will order their commands to lay down arms. P.H. Pearse, Dublin 30th April 1916.”
At first, public sentiment was against the insurgents. That changed when the British declared martial law, proceeded to arrest thousands of men and a number of women, executed all the signatories of the proclamation and eight others, destroying their bodies with lime.
In the end, fifteen leaders were executed by the British. It took only seven men to launch the offensive that would eventually bring about a free Irish Republic.
General Michael Collins was the great Irish leader who played a small role in the Easter Rising but who became a key player in the treaty of 1921 that gave Ireland dominion status within the British Empire.
Foggy Dew, a song about the Easter Rising –
Actual Footage of the Easter Rising –
Who were the black and tans –
Film footage of the great Michael Collins –
The Funeral of Michael Collins –
On August 22nd, 1922, Collins journeyed to County Cork. He was due to meet troops of the new Irish Army. His car was ambushed at a place called Beal na mBlath and Collins was shot dead. To this day, no-one is completely sure what happened or who killed him. No-one else was killed in the ambush. Collins’ body lay in state in Dublin for three days and thousands paid their respects. Thousands also lined the streets for his funeral procession.
Padraic H. Pearse, one of the original executed leaders, was a poet, this is his poem –
I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,
That have no treasure but hope,
No riches laid up but a memory
Of an Ancient glory.
My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,
I am of the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten,
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
And, though gentle, have served churls;
The hands that have touched mine, the dear hands whose touch is familiar to me,
Have worn shameful manacles, have been bitten at the wrist by manacles,
Have grown hard with the manacles and the task-work of strangers,
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly, I am bone of their bone,
I that have never submitted;
I that have a soul greater than the souls of my people’s masters,
I that have vision and prophecy and the gift of fiery speech,
I that have spoken with God on the top of His holy hill.
And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with their sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children,
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have served, they who should be free,
Reddened for that they have gone in want, while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailors
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!
I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.
And now I speak, being full of vision;
I speak to my people, and I speak in my people’s name to the masters of my people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains,
That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer,
That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples
For whom He died naked, suffering shame.
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give.
Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars!