News / Europe

    Ireland Recalls 1916 Easter Rising Against British Rule

    Irish President Michael D Higgins lays a wreath at the General Post Office on O'Connell street, Dublin, Ireland, March 27, 2016.
    Irish President Michael D Higgins lays a wreath at the General Post Office on O'Connell street, Dublin, Ireland, March 27, 2016.
    Associated Press

    Thousands of soldiers marched solemnly Sunday through the crowded streets of Dublin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ireland's Easter Rising against Britain, a fateful rebellion that reduced parts of the capital to ruins and fired the country's flame of independence.

    The Easter parade through Dublin featured military ceremonies at key buildings seized in 1916, when about 1,200 rebels sought to fuel a popular revolt against Ireland's place in the United Kingdom.

    The five-hour procession paused at noon outside the colonnaded General Post Office on O'Connell Street, the rebel headquarters a century ago, where commander Padraig Pearse formally launched the revolt by proclaiming to bemused Dubliners the creation of a "provisional" Republic of Ireland.

    A soldier in today's Irish Defence Forces, Capt. Peter Kelleher, stood in front of the restored post office Sunday to read the full, florid text of Pearse's 1916 proclamation.

    "In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom," Kelleher said to an audience that included Ireland's leaders and scores of grandchildren of the rebels.

    Many donned their ancestors' Easter Rising bronze service medals, which Ireland issued in 1941 on the rebellion's 25th anniversary.

    British forces, among them many Irishmen focused on fighting Germany in World War I, were caught off guard by the seizure of largely unguarded buildings in 1916. Most officers were attending horse races in the Irish countryside. But Britain quickly deployed army reinforcements who were cheered by some locals as they marched into Dublin. Artillery based at Trinity College and a gunboat on the River Liffey which bisects the city shelled the post office and other rebel strongholds, forcing their surrender within six days.

    The fighting left nearly 500 dead, most of them civilians caught in the crossfire or shot - by both sides - as suspected looters. Some 126 British soldiers, 82 rebels and 17 police were slain.

    Many Dubliners opposed the insurrection as an act of treason in time of war, but public sentiment swiftly swung in the rebels' favor once a newly arrived British Army commander decided to execute Pearse and 14 other rebel leaders by firing squad in Dublin's Kilmainham Jail.

    A 16th figure, Roger Casement, who days before the Easter Rising was caught trying to smuggle German weapons by sea to Ireland, was hanged inside a London prison.

    In the rebellion's immediate wake, the poet W.B. Yeats reflected Ireland's conflicted feelings about how violent nationalism appeared to be hastening Ireland's journey to political freedom but at a debatable cost. His "Easter, 1916" poem, among the most quoted works in all of Irish literature, listed the names of executed Rising commanders and concluded that Ireland had "changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born."

    Easter Rising veterans led Ireland's 1919-21 war of independence, their ranks swelled by combat veterans returning to Ireland from World War I trenches. As the newly founded Irish Republican Army fought police and soldiers in the predominantly Catholic south, Protestants in northeast Ireland carved out a new U.K.-linked state of Northern Ireland.

    A treaty accepted by most southern rebels established an Irish Free State in 1922 that grudgingly accepted the reality of the island's partition. The new Irish state survived a fratricidal 1922-23 civil war between IRA factions. Michael Collins' pro-treaty forces crushed IRA die-hards who, backed by Eamon de Valera, rejected the treaty because the new state was not fully independent of Britain. Both men had fought in the 1916 Rising.

    Ireland remained neutral in World War II and declared itself a republic on Easter Monday 1949.

    Ireland long has struggled to embrace Easter as its effective independence day, in part because the enemy camps from the Irish civil war forged the country's two dominant political parties: Fine Gael by allies of the slain IRA leader Collins; and de Valera's Fianna Fail party. Both parties claim to be the true defenders of the 1916 rebels' ideals.

    Official unease with 1916's disputed legacy grew from the early 1970s as a new Belfast-based IRA launched a ruthless campaign to force Northern Ireland out of the U.K. and into the republic. This outlawed faction called itself the Provisional IRA and killed nearly 1,800 people before calling a 1997 cease-fire to support leaders of its revived Sinn Fein party, who today help govern Northern Ireland alongside British Protestant politicians.

    In a sign of changing times, leaders of Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein stood side by side at Sunday's events, including a ceremony inside Kilmainham Jail, where Pearse and other commanders were executed.

    Sunday's commemorations are the centerpiece of an estimated 2,500 events nationwide this spring and summer reflecting on the legacy of Easter 1916.

    The 1916 rebellion itself began on April 24, an official religious holiday in Ireland known as Easter Monday.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady Trip to Africa to Highlight Educational Obstacles Girls Face

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora