Easter Rising 1916

The Easter rising of 1916: Background Information

In the period leading up to the First World War there had been a move towards Home Rule for Ireland. Home Rule would have given the Irish their own parliament that could make laws relating to domestic (Irish) issues. Major decisions about the economy and foreign affairs would still be made in London. Home rule was a very popular idea amongst the Irish population and was supported by the Liberal government of the day. Attitudes towards Home Rule changed as a result of the Easter 1916 Rising. At the 1918 election, Sinn Fein won 73 seats, the Home rule party only 6 seats and the Unionists 26 seats, each in northern counties.

Easter Rising

Causes of the Easter Rising

1912 Third Reading of Home Bill This made Home rule for Ireland inevitable. Some people in Ulster start to arm themselves.

1912-1914 IRB Arm themselves As a response to the arming of Ulstermen the IRB orders its members to be trained in military drill. This makes conflict more likely.

1914 Irish Citizen Army emerges As a result of police violence against striking transport workers the ICA was formed.

August 1914 Britain declares war on Germany Many men join the British army. Nationalists see the war as an opportunity to rebel.

1914-1916 War British government pressurises men to join the army yet still doesn’t implement Home Rule. Leads to further anger amongst Nationalists.

1916 Easter Rising An opportunist rebellion led by a small group of Irish Volunteers. The Rising is suppressed by the British army.

Easter Rising 1916: The Aftermath

The British Army had put down the rebellion swiftly and decisively. The leaders were arrested and ‘peace’ was returned to the streets very quickly. The rebellion itself had not been as popular with the Irish as had been hoped: 220 civilians had been killed during the fighting and 381 wounded. The manner in which the British dealt with the rebels however changed public opinion dramatically.

British Reaction to the Rising:

– 16 Leaders of the rebellion were executed.
– Martial Law imposed on Ireland.
– Internment (Imprisonment without trial) of leading nationalists.

Source A

“The great bulk of the population were not favourable to the rebels, they got no popular support whatsoever. What is happening is that thousands of people in Dublin, who ten days ago were bitterly opposed to the whole of the Sinn Fein movement, and to the rebellion, are now becoming infuriated with the Government on account of the executions, and, as I am informed… that feeling is spreading throughout the country in an almost dangerous degree.” J Dillon, Irish Nationalist MP, 11 May 1916 speaking in the House of Commons.

Political perspectives at the time:

Sinn Fein: demanded an independent Ireland.
Nationalists: supported Home Rule movement and devolution of power to Dublin.
Ulster Unionists: opposed to any devolution of power or moves towards independence.
Liberal party: in favour of Home Rule, but had put this on hold until after the war ended.

Ireland: Home Rule, Troubles, Peace
Home RuleEaster Rising, 1916Partition of Ireland
The Troubles, 1968-1972Worksheets and Classroom Activities on the Troubles in Northern Ireland
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