The 1916 rising and the road to Irish independence

Historians and politicians see the 1916 Easter Rising as a key event in the formation of modern Ireland. These are the main events surrounding the rebellion against British rule and the creation of an Irish republic:

1913 - Establisment of Irish Volunteers, an army formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers by Unionists opposed to home rule.

1914 - Home Rule Bill, which would have given limited self-determination to the Irish, is suspended with the outbreak of World War 1.

Irish nationalism was split between home rule campaigner John Redmond, who wanted to assist England in the hope of gaining concessions after the war, and those who wanted to overthrow British rule in Ireland by revolutionary means.

1915 - Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a secret society dating back to 1858, which aims to secure a separate Irish Republic, plans the rising under the leadership of Padraig Pearse, Joseph Plunkett and Thomas MacDonagh.

Pearse, a teacher, barrister, poet and Irish language enthusiast, believed that "blood sacrifice" was necessary to achieve Ireland's freedom. He pushed for a revolution while the British were occupied fighting the war in Europe.

1916 - Under Pearse's leadership, 1,300 Irish Volunteers and 220 men and women from the Irish Citizen Army, led by James Connolly, are integrated into the Army of the Irish Republic. At least 200 women soldiers from the Cumann na mBan, the women's council, formed an auxiliary of the Irish Volunteers.

On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, the insurgents seize the General Post Office in Dublin, from where Pearse proclaims an independent Irish republic. Other key government buildings are occupied and fighting continues for six days until Pearse surrenders. Along with 250 civilians and 60 insurgents, 130 British soldiers are killed.

The British execute the 15 leaders. Roger Casement is later hanged in England for his part in the conspiracy to get arms from Germany. More than 3,500 people are arrested, twice the number that took part. At least 1,500 people are interned in Wales without trial. Irish public opinion, initially indifferent or opposed to the rising, is outraged.

1919 - Led by Eamonn De Valera, the nationalist movement Sinn Fein ("We Ourselves") sets up a Dublin assembly, Dail Eireann, which again proclaims the Irish Republic. The Irish Republican Army, as the Irish Volunteers are now known, begins the War of Independence against British forces. Casualties are heavy on both sides.

The "Black and Tans," a nickname based on the colour of their uniform, are recruited from Britain to boost the Royal Irish Constabulary police force. They become notorious for violent reprisals against civilians.

1921 - Anglo-Irish Treaty establishes the Free State, an independent dominion of the British crown with full internal self-government rights, partitioned from Northern Ireland, which remains part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

1922 - Dublin parliament ratifies the treaty despite the opposition of De Valera and others. Civil war breaks out and hundreds are killed.

1932 - De Valera, now leader of the Fianna Fail party, becomes head of government after the previous administration fails to deal with economic difficulties.

1937 - New elections. The voters return De Valera and approve a new constitution which abolishes the Irish Free State and proclaims Eire, Ireland, as a sovereign, independent, democratic state.

1948 - Ireland declares itself a republic.

Last update: Sat, 26/03/2016 - 17:29


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