Why did the Easter Rising of 1916 fail?
Or did it?
Success or failure in anything at all depends on 3 factors:
Point of view,
Long term affects.
- The Timing of the Easter Rising did or did not take place at the right period in time?
1. England was busy fighting in the First World War, recruiting more soldiers, and doing what else had to be done to fund and promote their military on the front. Conscription was being debated both in Ireland and England. The Military Act was passed in 1916. A huge number of Irishmen living in England fled to Ireland to escape conscription. It had not yet passed in Ireland but it was threatening to.
This actually fueled more opposition to British rule.
2. The Gaelic Revival had spurred a strong sense of patriotism and all things Irish in Ireland years before the Easter Rising. At the same time, there were still people alive who remembered or passed on stories of the Famine of the 1840s as well as the mass evictions that would come in the aftermath. People held onto their anger and sense of injustice.
3. The Rebel Plan and the infamous Countermand issued from Eoin MacNeil canceling what were known as three days of Dublin parades by the Irish Volunteers. The IRB (later to become the IRA) knew this was code for the Easter Rising.One of the reasons for this counter command was that a shipment of arms was set to land in County Kerry but the British got wind of it and the boat was scuttled along with Roger Casement who was later hanged.
When MacNeil sent out the countermand it did 2 things. The worst and most obvious is that perhaps two thirds of the Irish rebels, many of them in the South of Ireland did not show up to the fight. The other thing that happened was it blinded Dublin Castle (the seat of British government at the time) to the danger of the rebel army, relaxing their precautions.
4. While it is true MacNeil’s countermand had a devastating effect on how many men showed up to the Easter Rising, it is also true that the seeds of rebellion blossomed more fully for many when they were interned in Frongoch Prision in Wales. Frongach was nicknamed the school of revolution or Sinn Fein University. The comradeship and determination of a whole group of men who some may previously have never met before, fueled not just the dream of a free Ireland but a way of life. They formed bonds with each other against the enemy and Michael Collins carried on where James Connolly could not. Thus the IRA was born.
Dublin was destroyed with over 2000 casualties and deaths, many of them civilians. Natives of Dublin were outraged and angry. Public opinion was not in their favor. After the Easter Rising, Dubliners threatened, spat on, and were held back by British soldiers. less they tear the rebels limb from limb. Later public opinion would change after executions of the rebel leaders.
The Easter Rising began on Easter Monday April 24th, 1916. It lasted a mere six days with the rebels: The Fianna boys, the Irish Citizen Army, the Irish Volunteers, and Cumann na mBan women surrendering unconditionally to the British on Saturday April 29th. They left the city of Dublin in rubble. The world now knew how desperate Ireland was to be free of British rule. America is somewhat sympathetic after the the Rising. America’s opinion would be split because of rumors of Ireland and Germany alliances during WWI.
Long Term Affects
The Easter Rising was just the beginning but it would take years and more blood shed for a free Republic to be born. It was officially declared a republic in 1949 and a member of the United Nations in 1955. Since them we have seen the city of Dublin built back up, most of the slums removed, and the Celtic Tiger put Ireland on the map as a supreme travel destination and Ireland is also one of the most prospering countries in all of Europe.. Most famine cottages as well as run-down dwellings replace new houses. People are no longer held without trial or dragged from their beds to be brutalized in the name of his majesty’s soldiers and conscription is not a threat. Ireland is still not perfect and the Troubles a thing of the past only recently.
Still, you decide. Was the Easter Rising a success or a failure?
Please leave a comment if you’ve enjoyed this post.
For more Irish history posts go here and subscribe.