What was the Easter Rising in 1916 Irish History?

In  commemorating the Easter Rising of 1916  in Ireland, here are just a few of some less known facts, for all my Irish History Buffs out there.

FACT 1:. Did you know that the ‘Easter Rising of 1916’ which catapulted Ireland to its dream of Freedom from England , did not happen on Easter Sunday, but on the day after,  Monday in fact?. Do you know why?.

Arms were to be delivered from Germany to aid the Rebellion,  but the English got wind of the whole thing and the Royal navy sunk the ship, thus losing the cargo of arms..

A counter command, ordered by Eoin Mac Neill cancelled what was supposed to be a non-military parade by the Irish Volunteers on Easter Sunday, This threw all those involved into confusion. Mac Neill had not yet joined the Military Council of the IRB and was not aware that the parade was just a ruse for an actual  Rising until Bulmer Hobson informed him of such. When he found out he was completely uncooperative and wanted nothing to do with it.

When the Rebels in the outlying countryside heard of the counter command they laid down their guns for another day. They were not aware that the IRB planned to ignore the command and  forge ahead with the Rising, after all. This left Dublin in a less than advantageous state of affairs. They were outnumbered and outgunned. Patrick Pearse, who was leading the revolution knew what that meant. A blood sacrifice. He’d known it all along, actually and had accepted his fate for his country.

Constance Markievicz was the only woman arrested who was put into solitary confinement in Kilmainham Gaol. She was sentenced to death but then was  not executed, perhaps because she was a woman.  She wanted to die with her friends and countrymen and was  quoted as saying, “I do wish your lot would have the decency to shoot me!” She was released from jail in 1917 and happily  found a changed Ireland. Public opinion had shifted dramatically and made all the rebels who previously had been despised and hated into heroes and the executed, martyrs.  Constance was a fascinating woman and there is much more to her than this little bit of history.  I’ve dedicated a historical novel to her life and the love story she had with her husband, the Polish Count, to be released sometime in 2016, on the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

In the beginning of the Rising, women in black capes called ‘Shawlees’ threw bottles and anything they could get their hands on at the GPO, where the Rebels had taken up residence. They were aware the rebels previously had lectured and discouraged that Irishmen should not taking up arms for the British army when they themselves were being oppressed by the English here at home. The women were angry and vengeful because they were convinced that the Rebels were trying to keep them from obtaining their checks, sent home from husbands and sons, whom were fighting in WWI.  After all it was a Post Office.

 

Grace Gifford, a painter, married Joseph Mary Plunkett, who was then dying of TB, in Kilmainham Gaol, only hours before Plunkett’s execution. They had originally planned to have a double wedding on Easter Sunday with Plunkett’s sister Geraldine and Thomas Dillon, who did escape execution. One source I read claimed a boy-hood friend of Plunkett’s was one of the guards in Kilmainham Gaol and as Grace cried in her husband’s arms, the friend assured her, Joseph would probably not be executed, for the British would certainly not shoot a dying man. This boyhood ‘chum’ also was ordered to be part of the firing squad, which he refused, resulting in his own arrest.. Grace was misinformed  and he was shot a few hours after they took their vows. To take a crash course in Irish History go here and read 100 Things You Didn’t Know About Irish History now with Bonus Content..

James ConnollyAnother misprint of the Easter Rising that seems to have stuck thanks to the British is that James Connolly was strapped to a chair during his execution because he could not sit up straight. The reality was much worse. He was strapped to a stretcher and leaned upright against the wall while they fired on him! This description was recorded by the Sacristan to the Parish of St James by Fr McCarthy

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Warmly, Brighid O’Sullivan

 

 

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