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Effect of the 1916 Easter Rising on Irish Independence

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Published: 8th Feb 2020 in History

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To what extent was the 1916 Easter Rising successful in achieving its aim for Irish independence?

In the early 1900s, Ireland was governed by the parliament of the United Kingdom and under the rule of Great Britain[1]. A campaign in Ireland began in 1870 and continued through 1918, the end of World War 1, called the Home Rule Movement. This was a political movement in favor of Irish Nationalism and self-governance. In 1916, the Easter Rising rebellion in Dublin sought to expedite Ireland’s independence movement, and played a significant role in Ireland’s history. In the most direct sense, the goal was to achieve Irish independence and sovereignty of its citizens 1. At the same time, however, the Easter Rising itself had the underlying purpose of simply starting and progressing a movement based on the ideals of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). The ideas of the IRB were what the Easter Rising was centered on: Ireland’s entitlement to independence  and the need to achieve that through an armed insurrection. The Easter Rising of 1916 was largely unsuccessful in achieving its aim of Irish Independence. (which was not gained until 1937) Easter Rising pulled significantly less support than expected, was quickly shut down by the Parliament and had intricate and indistinct goals 1. Additionally, the rising was not an immediate catalyst for the War for Independence, which began 3 years later.

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The UK parliament passed Home Rule Bills in 1886, 1893, 1912 and 1920, in attempts to give Ireland more sovereignty[2]. In the early 1900s, The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) were two prominent political groups. The IRB consisted of a mainly underground group which favored independence for Ireland[3], while the ICA was a paramilitary group with the purpose of protecting trade unionists from police violence. For the rebellion in 1916, these groups joined together to have large enough numbers to ideally have a successful movement. While the idea of Home Rule had some support throughout the country, the IRB did not support the campaign, simply favoring nationalism and independence from Great Britain3.

One main result of the Rising was the creation of the Irish Proclamation[4], made by the provisional government, seven leaders of the rebellion: James Connolly, a leader of the Irish Citizen Army, Thomas Clarke, a revolutionary leader, Patrick Pearse, commander in chief of Irish Republican Forces, Sean Mac Diarmada, a political activist and leader, Thomas MacDonagh, political activist and writer, Eamonn Ceannt, a prominent republican, and Joseph Plunkett, a nationalist, author and revolutionary 1. Pearse read out the Irish Proclamation of 1916 from the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin, which essentially layed out the rights and responsibilities of all Irish citizens. In addition, the proclamation claimed that Ireland belonged to its citizens, and called for the end of British rule, and “called the Irish Republic into existence.” [5]

One significant reason that the Easter Rising was unsuccessful was the lack of anticipated support from the public (as well as rebels)[6]. Many Sinn Feiners, as the general public was called, considered refusal to fight to be a more patriotic standpoint, as Ireland was still under Great Britain’s control and they did not want to fight for any other country, even indirectly. The groups making up the rebellion, mainly the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, expected a much larger turnout than they received 7. German support was expected, but the Germans (an enemy of Great Britain at the time) sent only weapons and supplies to the Irish rebels, no troops. In total there was only ¼ of the anticipated participation in Easter Rising. 800 volunteers assembled on Easter Day, and for the total of the 6 days of violence there were no more than 1500 armed rebels. One factor that potentially contributed to this lack of participation was that throughout Ireland, dissidents were the minority. While Ireland was not forced to draft troops for Britain, thousands of people volunteered as soldiers 7. However, there was a small percent of rebels within the country who wanted fast action towards Irish Home Rule and nationalism. Their actions and protests were permitted because the Irish Chief Secretary Augustine Birrell did not allow systematic oppression of rebels[7]. He did not want to ruin any future war effort for Irish Independence by focusing on minimizing smaller-scale rebellions. The poem by WB Yeats, an Irish poet and senator, reflects on commonly-held sentiments regarding the Easter Rising in 1916. Yeats expresses uncertainty about the extent to which he supports the actions of the rebels, yet he clearly respects the sacrifice and dedication they displayed. During and following the rising there was essentially not much public support for the rebels’ cause[8]. [In the following years, however, support increased as people realized the importance.]

Another aspect of the failings of the Easter Rising can be found by focusing on the aftermath of the uprising. At the end of the 6 days of violence, all leaders of the rebellion were executed, despite their claim to being the Provisional Government. As a result, many came to view the Easter Rising as “the start of an era of unnecessary bloodshed and violence[9].” After 6 days of fighting, insurgents were forced to surrender. Irish officials enacted Martial law and participated in mass arrests (in addition to executions of leaders) until the fall of 1916. This immediate action against the rising, despite the Chief Secretary’s rule against it, shows some extent of its failure. These actions showed other rebels as well as the Sinn Feiners how little power and political agency they possessed 5. The effects and aftermath of the rising were catastrophic at the very least, with resultant homelessness and the death or injury of thousands. ⅓ of the population had to go on public relief, and stores throughout Dublin were closed. The aftermath of the rising consisted mainly of continued setbacks for the IRB, which added to the perception of the whole event as unsuccessful 5.

Leaders and participants in Easter Rising had different perspectives going into the fighting. Some civilian participants believed that it was an extended training exercise for the Irish Citizen Army, while some leaders like Thomas Clarke believed that the purpose of the rising was only to have the rebels’ cause heard in front of a Peace Council before the end of World War 1[10]. There was a range of sentiments among rebels, from believing that it was a necessary blood sacrifice, to believing that achieving an Irish Republic was the final and only goal. As a result of the aim of Easter Rising being somewhat convoluted, its goal of Irish independence became even more important; those who participated did so largely because they believed that it was necessary, and wanted this central goal achieved. But while the desire for Home Rule was a crucial cause of the Rising, the war for Independence did not begin until 3 years later in 1919. This alludes to the fact that while Easter Rising may have been successful at swaying civilian sentiment towards the cause of the rebels, it was not the decisive catalyst for independence.

 Despite all the turmoil caused by the rebellion, Patrick Pearse said after the majority of the fighting was over, “I am satisfied that we have saved Ireland’s honor[11].”, as he believed that Easter Rising was only the start of a larger social and political movement, (despite its apparent lack of success). Irish author James Stephens wrote a month following the rebellion that “Ireland will eventually be grateful for the sacrifice 4”, hinting at the idea that support for Irish Independence and the ideals of the IRB would continue to increase in the following years. In addition, some of the rushed and forceful actions against rebels in the aftermath of the rising caused some Irish citizens to have increased anti-British sentiment from seeing the violent and rapid counter to the rebels by the British government. The rising may have been the first stage in the war for Independence, although Ireland did not become the Irish Free State until 1922, and the Irish Republic in 1949[12].

The controversial event of Easter Rising 1916 is an important part of Ireland’s history. It led to the creation of the Irish Proclamation and marked a step in the journey towards independence for Ireland. While it was important, there was much less support than anticipated, and a violent aftermath of continued setbacks for the rebels and leaders of the rising. Additionally, different perspectives and ideas about the goals of the rising, combined with the backlash and slow-to-come support from the rest of the country caused the war for Independence to not even officially begin until 1919. Ireland did not fully gain independence until 1922. As a result of all these limitations and setbacks from Easter Rising, it was unsuccessful overall in achieving its goal and contributing to Irish Independence from Great Britain.

Sources:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/easterrising/insurrection/in04.shtml

  1. Alan J. Ward, The Easter Rising: Revolution and Irish Nationalism (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2003), v, http://www.questiaschool.com/read/117981271/the-easter-rising-revolution-and-irish-nationalism.
  2. Yeats, William Butler. “Easter, 1916 by William Butler Yeats.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43289/easter-1916.
  3. Elizabeth Malcolm, “The Rising. Ireland: Easter 1916,” Estudios Irlandeses – Journal of Irish Studies, no. 12 (2017), http://www.questiaschool.com/read/1G1-506674880/the-rising-ireland-easter-1916.
  4. “ANONYMOUS Easter 1916 Proclamation of an Irish Republic Poblacht Na h-Eireann The Provisional Government of the Irish Republic To the People of Ireland.” Easter 1916 Proclamation of an Irish Republic, www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/noa/pdf/27636_20th_U01Anonymous-1-2.pdf.
  5. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Home Rule.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Sept. 2010, www.britannica.com/event/Home-Rule-Great-Britain-and-Ireland.

Was it needless death after all?

For England may keep faith  

For all that is done and said.  

We know their dream; enough

To know they dreamed and are dead;  

And what if excess of love  

Bewildered them till they died?  

SELF ASSESSMENT GOAL: take notes on 2 main sources for Monday

Goal for 4/12: make progress on historical context paragraphs

Research Question(s):

-          * To what extent was the 1916 Easter Rising successful in achieving its aim for Irish independence? *

-          To what extent was the 1916 Easter Rising promoting a social agenda as opposed to a political one?

Reference:

Sources:

  1. https://www.questiaschool.com/read/117981269/the-easter-rising-revolution-and-irish-nationalism
  2. https://www.questiaschool.com/read/1G1-506674880/the-rising-ireland-easter-1916
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/mar/26/easter-rising-100-years-on-a-terrible-beauty-is-born

Not sure if this counts as a book…

     4.   1916: The Easter Rising by Tim Pat Coogan

Question: * To what extent was the 1916 Easter Rising successful in achieving its aim for Irish independence? *

Thesis: The 1916 Easter Rising was successful to a small extent (not successful) in achieving Irish Independence. (but was successful in other aspects.)

+        (belief)  PICK SIDE

-          Lack of support from rest of country

-          Leaders executed after 6 days of fighting: forced surrender (rushed executions, mass arrests and martial law enacted until fall 1916, these increased anti-British sentiment and gained support for the rebels <- this is somewhat of a counterpoint

-          War of independence did not start until 1919, 3 years later (this event may have contributed but was not a large contributor)

-          What is the goal for independence?

Variables – evidence to support thesis

  1. Rebel leaders were executed, which brought media/attention to the rebellion but left ambiguity in the exact purpose of their rising

“The Rising has been claimed by many as the founding act of a democratic Irish state.”/

“…the start of an era of unnecessary bloodshed and violence.”

↑the two arguments/sides of historians

 

2. It was not successful because it was only the first stage in the war for independence (became Irish Free State, 1922; Irish Republic 1949)

3. The rising made citizens more politically aware, but some say that it was an unnecessary measure (“unnecessary bloodshed and violence” – reference both historical views)

4. Role of Patrick Pearse and James Connolly (authors and leaders of the insurgence – use some of their writings?)

https://johnpwalshblog.com/2016/05/12/breakpoint-of-irish-nationalism-the-1916-easter-rising-or-how-a-band-of-motley-rebels-with-playwrights-and-poets-as-leaders-did-more-in-six-days-for-the-cause-of-irish-freedom-than-nationalist-polit/

http://the1916proclamation.ie/the-meaning/

Source: Proclamation of 1916

By: Provisional Government,


1st source:

-          Easter Rising, Dublin April 24, 1916, Easter Monday

-          causes /effects, how did it change the course of history?

-          6 days of violence (lasted 6 days)

-          Effects: homelessness, closed stores, ⅓ of population on public relief, Hundreds dead, thousands wounded

-          Leaders of rebellion arrested

-          Leaders were UK citizens, but had been running a campaign against army recruiting in Ireland since 1914, beginning of WW1 (newspapers, pamphlets, posters, demonstrations)

-          Wanted Ireland free from British rule

-          Rebellion participants had non-concealed weapons

-          Dissidents were a minority, Ireland had thousands of army volunteers for Britain

-          Irish Chief Secretary Augustine Birrell didn’t allow systematic oppression of rebels/dissidents bc he thought it would ruin war effort

-          Refusing to fight could be considered “more patriotic” for Ireland, not fighting for another country

-          Ireland supplied volunteers, food, workers to Britain but were not forced into conscription

-          General public – Sinn Feiners

-          On Easter Sunday:

-          Navy captured German ship carrying weapons to rebels

-          Sir Roger Casement, an Irish revolutionary, was captured and executed

-          Government saw these as proof of treason, collusion between Germans (enemy of UK) and rebels

-          Dublin Castle was fired on

-          400/2400 soldiers were on duty that day in Dublin

-          Rebellion: republicans moved to predetermined spots around the city, carried arms and ammunition

-          German support for rebellion but no German troops

-          Around 800 volunteers assembled on Easter, no more than 1500 armed rebels total

-          Only ¼ of anticipated participation

-          Rebels: Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army

-          Various types of weapons, some homemade

-          “Heavy fighting at close quarters”

-          Irish Citizen Army ; commandant Michael Mallin

-          Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic at the GPO

-          (P.7 = the Proclamation) “called the Irish Republic into existence” (also p.9)

-          7 signers, lived through the fighting but were eventually killed

-          Flag of the republic flown over GPO for 6 days

-          Pearse went in expecting to lose, heroic gesture

-          Voluntary martyrdom to awaken nationalism

-          ‘MacDiarmada wrote from his cell in Kilmainham Prison on the eve of his execution, “We die that the Irish nation may live. Our blood will rebaptise and reinvigorate the land.”’

-          British government thought that the rising was coordinated with German zeppelin attacks and bombings

-          Fast reaction from British government

-          Martial Law enacted for Dublin on Easter Monday, rest of Ireland on Wed

-          By the end of the week: 12,000 British soldiers vs. 1500 republican rebels

-          British govt fear of uprising and German attacks

-          Saturday – Pearse and Connolly surrender surrounded, devastated and outnumbered

-          Pearse (Friday) “I am satisfied that we have saved Ireland’s honor”

-          Approx 450 casualties, 2500 wounded

-          60+ rebels died

-          Very little support for the rising/republicans, condemned by parliament, and less general support than expected

-          Surrendered, not seen as heroes

-          Disrupted industry of Dublin

-          James Stephens, author, May 6 – Ireland will eventually be grateful for the sacrifice

-           

-          WB Yeats, poem: Easter 1916 (SOURCE?)

————————————————————————————————

2nd source:

-          Controversial event

-          Pearse and Connolly = prolific writers

-          Tom Clarke and Sean McDermott played equally large roles in the proclamation as Pearse and Connolly, despite unequal credit

-          Rebellion mainly led by middle-class Catholic nationalists

-          Eamon de Valera*

-          1966 – The Troubles

-          1914 Irish Home Rule Act

-          De Valera’s Military History Archive

-          “Did they see themselves as embarking upon a “blood sacrifice”, or did they believe that a republic was achievable; did they question the morality of the violence they were unleashing upon their fellow Dubliners, or were they convinced that their cause warranted such extreme measures?”

-          Some volunteers thought it was a training exercise, while some thought they were “going off to war”

-          Tom Clarke goal: to have the rebels’ case heard before the peace conference at the end of the war

-          Women, large role (200 women)

————————————————————————

3rd Source: (summary) http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/noa/pdf/27636_20th_U01Anonymous-1-2.pdf

-          Irish Proclamation

-          We hope for victory for Ireland (nationalism)

-          The citizens of Ireland own Ireland

-          Right to freedom and sovereignty, we will fight for Ireland if we need to

-          Irish Republic claims the allegiance of all its citizens

-          Religious and civil freedom, equal rights and opportunities

-          Right to happiness and prosperity

-          No more British Rule

-          Government will represent the people and be elected

-          Provisional government for military and civil affairs

-          We hope all citizens will honor the nation of Ireland and be prepared to die for it, God bless Ireland

-          Signed by provisional government (7), leaders of the Rising:

-          James Connolly

-          Thomas Clarke

-          Patrick Pearse – commander in chief of Irish Republican Forces

-          Sean Mac Diarmada

-          Thomas MacDonagh

-          Eamonn Ceannt

-          Joseph Plunkett

Source 4:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43289/easter-1916

WB Yeats: Easter, 1916

Intro –

 1-2 sentences historical context, what was happening in ireland

Introduce thesis statement: your response to research question

3 supporting beliefs/claims – defend thesis [BIG IDEAS, can be developed/explained]

P2:

Historical context entirely, more info about what sets the stage for thesis/research question, *background*

P3.

1st claim

●        2nd

●        3rd

●        Counter, historical evidence arguing against your thesis

●        Back to thesis, conclusion

*Use quotes to support, not as content, Examples that support ideas, quotes are not ideas*

—————-

3. Length of time until independence


“Firstly, that Ireland had a natural right to independence, and secondly, that that right could be won only by an armed revolution.[27]

Irish War of Independence: 1919 – 1921

Easter Rising:

IRB + ICA (Irish Republican Brotherhood, underground group in favor of independence; Irish Citizen Army – paramilitary group to protect trade unionists from police violence during strikes, etc and led by James Connolly) – these groups joined forces to have enough forces to be successful, Connolly was already planning his own rebellion of sorts

IRB – Home Rule Campaign, nationalism and independence from GB

Explain political parties, Sinn Fein, fenian brotherhood, etc, IRB, and other groups and people involved in the first/second paragraphs, second if they need more in-depth explanation


[1]  “Easter Rising – Changed Irish History.” Ireland Calling, ireland-calling.com/easter-rising-1916/.

[2]            Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Home Rule.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 15 Sept. 2010, www.britannica.com/event/Home-Rule-Great-Britain-and-Ireland.

[3]  “Easter Rising Irish Republican Brotherhood.” Ireland Calling, ireland-calling.com/easter-rising-irish-republican-brotherhood/.

[4] “ANONYMOUS Easter 1916 Proclamation of an Irish Republic Poblacht Na h-Eireann The Provisional Government of the Irish Republic To the People of Ireland.” Easter 1916 Proclamation of an Irish Republic, www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/noa/pdf/27636_20th_U01Anonymous-1-2.pdf.

 

[5]   Alan J. Ward, The Easter Rising: Revolution and Irish Nationalism (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2003), v, http://www.questiaschool.com/read/117981271/the-easter-rising-revolution-and-irish-nationalism.

[6]   “Easter Rising – Changed Irish History.” Ireland Calling, ireland-calling.com/easter-rising-1916/.

[7]    Alan J. Ward, The Easter Rising: Revolution and Irish Nationalism (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2003), v, http://www.questiaschool.com/read/117981271/the-easter-rising-revolution-and-irish-nationalism

[8]   Yeats, William Butler. “Easter, 1916 by William Butler Yeats.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43289/easter-1916.

[9]  Ferriter, Diarmaid. “Diarmaid Ferriter: Why the Rising Matters.” The Irish Times, The Irish Times, 23 Sept. 2015, www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/1916-schools/diarmaid-ferriter-why-the-rising-matters-1.2353812.

[10]   Alan J. Ward, The Easter Rising: Revolution and Irish Nationalism (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2003), v, http://www.questiaschool.com/read/117981271/the-easter-rising-revolution-and-irish-nationalism.

[11]   Elizabeth Malcolm, “The Rising. Ireland: Easter 1916,” Estudios Irlandeses – Journal of Irish Studies, no. 12 (2017), http://www.questiaschool.com/read/1G1-506674880/the-rising-ireland-easter-1916.

[12]   Alan J. Ward, The Easter Rising: Revolution and Irish Nationalism (Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2003), v, http://www.questiaschool.com/read/117981271/the-easter-rising-revolution-and-irish-nationalism.

 

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