Easter Rising 1916

The Easter Rising was a Republican rebellion, staged mostly in Dublin, on Easter Monday in April 1916. The aim was to end British rule in Ireland and to establish an independent Ireland as a republic. Despite its military failure, the Easter Rising can be judged as being a significant stepping-stone in the eventual creation of the Irish Republic. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798.

The Irish Republican Brotherhood organised the Easter Rising which lasted from Easter Monday 24 April (Easter Monday) to 30 April 1916.

  • The Irish Volunteers, led by schoolteacher and barrister Patrick Pearse, seized key locations in Dublin including the Dublin General Post Office, Royal College of Surgeons, and Boland’s Mills. Here Pearse proclaimed an Irish Republic independent of Britain.
  • The British government declared Martial Law, sending a gunboat up the Liffey (the river that runs through the centre of Dublin) and bombing The General Post Office on O’Connell Street (which was named Sackville Street then).
  • The British Army reported casualties of 116 dead, 368 wounded and nine missing. 16 policemen died, and 29 were wounded.
  • Nationalist and civilian casualties were 318 dead and 2,217 wounded.
  • By the 29th April the British had taken control of the situation and began punishing the leaders.
  • Within days General Sir John Maxwell, Military Governor of Ireland, signed orders for the executions of 190 men and one woman. The verdict in 90 of the cases was execution by firing squad. 15 actually went ahead.
  • 1,800 were deported to an internment camp in Wales. (These camps in North Wales were designed to be prison holding areas for Irishmen arrested during the Easter Rising of 1916. Camps were closed by Dec 1916 and most prisoners had been released.)

Consequences of the Rising

  • Whilst the Irish public was initially not sympathetic towards the rebels, Maxwell’s harsh punishments turned many of them into supporters of the leaders and of their ideals.
  • Maxwell mistakenly called the events the "Sinn Féin rebellion" which increased support for that party further.
  • It succeeded in bringing physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics.
  • In December 1918, in the Irish General Election, Sinn Féin won 73 seats out of 105, wiping out the Home Rule Party.

The First Dáil was set up in January 1919 by elected members of Sinn Féin and survivors of the Easter Rising. They attempted to establish the Irish Republic, but the British Government refused to accept the newly declared nation. This refusal led to the Irish War of Independence.