Remember in my post Dublin much? Viking legacy where I said it would take 7 centuries for Ireland to regain control over their own country? Although defeated by the British, the Easter Rising is still an important part of the path to Irish independence, and in many respects it marks the start of said path. And it happened right here in Dublin, some of it at St. Stephens Green:
St Stephen’s Green (Irish: Faiche Stiabhna) is a public park in the city center of Dublin, adjacent to one of Dublin’s main shopping streets, Grafton Street. It is a beautifully landscaped park, adorned with beautiful works of art and statues.
During the Easter Rising of 1916, a group of insurgents (numbering between 200 and 250 men) established a position in St Stephen’s Green. They established road blocks on the surrounding streets by the use of confiscated motor vehicles, and they dug defensive positions in the park. Elsewhere in the city they would take up positions in buildings, and this different approach in the park would turn out to be not so smart, as elements of the British Army took up positions in a hotel at the northeastern corner of St Stephens Green, from where they could shoot down into the entrenchments. The Irish volunteers withdrew from their weak position in the park to the Royal College of Surgeons on the west side of the Green.
Somewhere, sometime, there just has to be a clever Quiz Master, who poses a question that can be answered with the following bit of information And when he does, you’ll be prepared. You are welcome!
During the Rising, fire was temporarily halted to allow the park’s grounds man to feed the local ducks.
Now, what was the Easter Rising?
The Easter Rising was an armed insurrection in Ireland, and as the name suggests it took place during Easter week, April 1916. Irish republicans launched the Rising to end British Rule in Ireland and to establish an independent Irish Republic while the UK was heavily engaged in WW1. The Easter Rising was the first armed action of the Irish revolutionary period.
The Rising began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, and lasted for six days. Members of the Irish Volunteers, Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The British Army brought in thousands of reinforcements as well as artillery and a gunboat. There was fierce street fighting, sniping and long-range gun battles. The main rebel positions were gradually surrounded and bombarded with artillery. Germany sent an arms shipment to the rebels, but the British intercepted it just before the Rising began. (I can’t help but think of how history may have turned out even worse had the rebels succeeded by the aid of Germany – getting too cozy with the Germans in those days might have ended even more catastrophically for the Irish people than the turmoil and terror that followed the Easter Rising) With much greater numbers and heavier weapons, the British Army suppressed the Rising, and after the surrender the country remained under martial law. Following courts-martial, most of the leaders of the Rising were executed.
Two and a half years later, in December 1918, the republican Sinn Féin party won a landslide victory in the general election to the British Parliament. Instead of taking their seats in the British Parliament, they convened the First Dáil and declared the independence of the Irish Republic, which then led to the War of Independence.
I will end this post with one of my favorite Irish bands; the Cranberries. This particular song, Zombie, was inspired by the IRA bombing in Warrington, Cheshire, England in 1993 where two children were killed. Although this radical bombing was about removing British troops from Northern Ireland, lead singer Dolores O’Riordan claims that the song speaks about “The Irish fight for independence that seems to last forever.” Looking at the lyrics you also see that “It’s the same old theme since 1916.”
It has also been speculated that this song, this call for peace between Ireland and England, is what made the IRA declare a ceasefire just a few weeks after the song was released in 1994 (in order to make sure the Cranberries didn’t release any more songs about them.) I personally have my doubts that such is the case, on the other hand; one should never underestimate the powers in great music and a strong, political message delivered by a fantastic lead singer:
Make sure you check out my previous posts from Ireland: