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The Easter Uprising.......

Added: Friday, March 1st 2019 at 10:12am by wicklowmick
 
 
 

 

A Terrible Beauty is Born….

 

 

 



 

 

At a couple of minutes past twelve noon on Easter Monday 24th April 1916, a hushed silence fell upon the inquisitive passers-by in O’Connell Street Dublin. They stood and looked in some amazement at the group of soldiers in green uniforms on the steps of the General Post Office.

One, Patrick Pearse began to read from a large document: "Irishmen and Irishwomen: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood…………..". He continued whilst the crowd stood in total silence until he came to the end. "……..In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by  its valour and discipline  and  by  the  readiness   of  its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called".

 

                                    

The reading was from the Irish Declaration of Independence, which was then posted on the door of the Post Office. The soldiers then entered the building. With that the crowd of onlookers began to break up and continue with their shopping and other business. Many laughed, others sniggered whilst all looked about themselves to see ‘if the police were coming’.

Young men were handing out copies of the Declaration to anyone interested and one copy was placed under a stone at the base of Nelson’s Column opposite.

 

 

 



 
 

A sudden interest was shown at the strange flags now flying above the Post Office. There was a Green, White and Yellow tricolour and a green flag with some print on it. 

In theory, if not in actual conflict, the Easter Rising of 1916 had begun. It would shape the country to the present day.

The British Intelligence Service in Dublin was taken completely unawares by the action and although many of the Dublin Metropolitan Police may well have been aware, there was no visible sign of their presence. After all, the British Army, which included a great number of Irishmen in its ranks, was deeply entrenched on the Somme in the eighteenth month old The Great War (World WarOne).

In fact, the start of the plans for the Easter Rising began being made literally within days of the August 1914 declaration of war between the Germans and Britain.  Ireland was, and some might have said was unwillingly under the control of Britain. 

At a meeting of the Irish Republican Brotherhood at the time it was stated that ‘England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity’. A motion was passed at the same meeting 1. To establish a military council. 2. To seek whatever help possible from the Germans. 3. To secure control of The Irish Volunteers.

The organisers never envisaged, or in fact expected, that an uprising would result in a military victory; far from it. They did however believe that it would enable them to declare a ‘Republic’, to gain full Irish support for the cause and to claim a place at the post war peace conference when the Great War ended.

                                           
 

 

Various other groups such as Trade Unions, the Gaelic League, Sinn Fein and others had already been infiltrated by the Brotherhood in anticipation of such a move. 

Ireland and England had been at each other’s throats for well over three hundred years and there had been many uprisings during the period.

When William of Orange was put on the English throne in the late 1600’s and James Second was kicked off it, there were many battles including the infamous Battle of the Boyne in 1690. James was defeated and Ireland was put firmly under the control of the English Crown

There had not been an uprising in Ireland since the failed 1798 Rebellion so almost 120 years had passed before such a ‘good’ opportunity arose or was likely to arise in the foreseeable future. 

The Ulster-Irish were in uproar at the same time, as for some thirty years there had been attempts in London to give Ireland ‘Home Rule’. This would have been accepted by the Southern Irish but was fiercely defied by the Ulstermen

The first Home Rule Bill in 1886 was defeated in the London Parliament. The second attempt in 1893 was passed by the Commons but rejected by the House of Lords. However, on the third attempt in 1912 it was again passed by the Commons, rejected by the Lords and passed when the Parliament Act was invoked. The entire island of Ireland would get Home Rule on 18 September 1914...............

 

 

 

 

 

The Ulster people protested throughout the entire process and formed the Ulster Volunteer Force on 13 January 1913. This resulted in the formation of the Irish Volunteers in the south to defend the up-and-coming Home Rule. However, with the outbreak of war, the bill was suspended until after the war ended. 

The Germans had been watching the process in Ireland carefully for the previous thirty years and were of the opinion that England would be too busy to enter any war on account of such problems. The German Kaiser was convinced that this assumption was correct when he saw the warlike attitude of the Ulster people towards Home Rule. 

He and his Generals were happy that England would be too busy with such problems, as the Ulster Volunteers were now a fully armed militia. When the Irish Volunteers in the south were formed, they too were armed. A civil war in Ireland was anticipated which would keep the English army busy. Germany also believed that the large number of Irishmen in the British Army would revolt causing more problems......... 

(An interesting point that arose as a result of the rising was that England had to station 50,000 soldiers in Ireland. Recruitment to the British Army basically ceased in Ireland, which in theory made a net loss to their army of 100,000 men. Men she could ill-afford to do without). 

As we all know, England fought a prolonged war against Germany, the Easter Rising took place and after the Irish rebels were defeated, the leaders were court-martialled and shot.

The Irish, in particular the Dubliners, were and had always been fiercely loyal to the Crown and were quite content with the status-quo but when the British began executing the leaders of the uprising, their loyalty rapidly turned anti-British. 

One ‘rebel’ leader, James Connolly, was injured before he was captured and it was reported that he was strapped to a chair when facing the firing squad.   As he was a leader of the Irish Trade Union movement, this struck a truly sore note in most, if not all, Irish workers.  

The Irishmen’s firmly held belief in what was ‘fair’ and what was not turned the majority against the British army and the British government resulting in an almost complete turnabout in favour of a Republic.  

And so ‘a terrible beauty was born’

--------------------------- 

 

 

 

Easter 1916.
William Butler Yates.

 

I have met them at close of day

 

Coming with vivid faces

 

From counter or desk

 

Among grey Eighteenth-century houses.

 

I have passed with a nod of the head

 

Or polite meaningless words,

 

Or have lingered awhile and said

 

Polite meaningless words,

 

And thought before I had done

 

Of a mocking tale or a gibe

 

To please a companion

 

Around the fire at the club,

 

Being certain that they and I

 

But lived where motley is worn:

 

All changed, changed utterly:

 

A terrible beauty is born.

 

 

 

That woman's days were spent

 

In ignorant good-will,

 

Her nights in argument

 

Until her voice grew shrill.

 

What voice more sweet than hers

 

When, young and beautiful,

 

She rode to harriers?

 

This man had kept a school

 

And rode our winged horse;

 

This other his helper and friend

 

Was coming into his force;

 

He might have won fame in the end,

 

So sensitive his nature seemed,

 

So daring and sweet his thought.

 

This other man I had dreamed

 

 

 

A drunken, vainglorious lout.

 

He had done most bitter wrong

 

To some who are near my heart,

 

Yet I number him in the song

 

He, too, has resigned his part

 

In the casual comedy;

 

He, too, has been changed in his turn,

 

Transformed utterly:

 

A terrible beauty is born.

 

 

 

Hearts with one purpose alone

 

Through summer and winter seem

 

Enchanted to a stone

 

To trouble the living stream.

 

The horse that comes from the road.

 

The rider, the birds that range

 

From cloud to tumbling cloud,

 

Minute by minute they change;

 

A shadow of cloud on the stream

 

Changes minute by minute;

 

A horse-hoof slides on the brim,

 

And a horse splashes within it;

 

The long-legged moor-hens dive,

 

And hens to moor-cocks call;

 

Minute by minute they live:

 

The stone's in the midst of all.

 

 

 

Too long a sacrifice

 

Can make a stone of the heart.

 

O when may it suffice?

 

That is Heaven's part, our part

 

To murmur name upon name,

 

As a mother names her child

 

When sleep at last has come

 

On limbs that had run wild.

 

What is it but nightfall?

 

No, no, not night but death;

 

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?

 

I write it out in a verse -

 

MacDonagh and MacBride

 

And Connolly and Pearse

 

Now and in time to be,

 

Wherever green is worn,

 

Are changed, changed utterly:

 

 

 

--------------------

 

 

 

User Comments

Very interesting.

Thank you Marissa - have a great weekend (and don't forget St.Patricks Day is on Sunday)....................Mike..

You have a great weekend too.

This is so interesting. I've read biographies of Eamonn de Valera and Michael Collins, but it's nice to find out as much more as I can about Irish history

Thank you Iamtheeggman:  You mentioned deValera who was hated back in Ireland.   It was said that it was he who gave the order to have Michael Collins killed.   Read up on the Internet on 'Irish Civil War'.  If you want to go back further read 'The Flight of the Earls' - the true beginning of all the troubles.....Mike..

Thanks for the information

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