Ireland Marks Centenary of Easter Uprising

Irish President Michael D Higgins at a remembrance ceremony in Dublin
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Irish President Michael D Higgins joins several remembrance ceremonies held in the Republic of Ireland to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. The president also met relatives of those involved in the events of the Rising at a state event

Irish President Michael D Higgins at a remembrance ceremony in Dublin
Irish President Michael D Higgins at a remembrance ceremony in Dublin

In an interview with Sky TV. the Irish President says he does not believe it is dangerous to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Mr Higgins told Sky News it is “the most useless thing to effect some kind of amnesia” in relation to the events of the past.

The President said the Easter Rising had to be viewed within the wider historical, political and social context.

“To understand the Rising and the response to it, you have to understand more than the nationalist tendencies… maybe most challenging is to discuss the mind of empire,” he said.

“It is the character of the response to the Rising, the executions, the imprisonment, the huge building up of scale to crush the Rising.”

President Higgins recalled the significance of his historic state visit to the UK two years ago and the Queen’s momentous visit to Ireland in 2011.

“Her Majesty had very clearly in her visit to Ireland struck a chord with the recognition that respecting this complexity and difference is so important so that our present is not in fact carrying any legacies of bitterness and so the future, we can embrace it together,” he said

The Easter Rising was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was launched by Irish republicans to end British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish Republic while the United Kingdom was heavily engaged in World War I. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798.

Irish_Citizen Army members on the roof of Liberty Hall, Easter 1916
Irish_Citizen Army members on the roof of Liberty Hall, Easter 1916

Organised by seven members of the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Rising began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, and lasted for six days. Members of the Irish Volunteers — led by schoolmaster and Irish language activist Patrick Pearse, joined by the smaller Irish Citizen Army of James Connolly and 200 members of Cumann na mBan — seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic.

There were isolated actions in other parts of Ireland, with an attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks at Ashbourne, County Meath and abortive attacks on other barracks in County Galway and at Enniscorthy, County Wexford.

With vastly superior numbers and artillery, the British Army quickly suppressed the Rising, and Pearse agreed to an unconditional surrender on Saturday 29 April. After the surrender, all of Ireland remained under martial law. About 3,500 people were taken prisoner by the British, many of whom played no part in the Rising, and 1,800 of them were sent to internment camps or prisons in Britain. Most of the leaders of the Rising were executed following courts-martial.