Looking back on the 100th Anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland.
As a student of my heritage, I have come to know a great deal of Irish history in the last five years. Understanding the pure hatred of the British by the Irish is at once both easy and difficult to comprehend, having only visited and not lived there. Had I spent an extended period there or lived there, I probably would have been able to wrap my mind around how deep seeded the feelings run, and then from there, understanding the different players and how they have affected entire generations of families and the suffering they endured from both within and without.
This isn’t a platform to beat my chest on my forefathers behalf, and certainly not an attempt to merely point to, and then address, The Troubles as a way to fully explain the problems between the two islands. This is just my way of putting it out there so as to guide people, Irish or not, to learn more about the history of the Irish people. Part of that includes, but is in no way limited to, the Easter Rising, or Easter Rebellion, of 1916.
It was during Easter Week 100 years ago that the armed insurrection was launched against British rule. It was a perfect opportunity, as the British were fully immersed in World War I, and it was thought, albeit foolishly, that it could not only be won by the Irish Republicans, but handily. They were dead wrong. It lasted six days in Dublin, where approximately 1,250 Irish Republican forces tried their best against the 16,000 British troops that were mobilized by the sixth day.
In true British form for the time (and historically to be honest), the leaders were all executed immediately and although only 1,250 fought, over 3,400 were arrested and put in prison. It was the straw that broke the camels back and although the Irish did not win their independence in 1916, it spurred a grass-roots movement of physical force republicanism which still exists in some fashion today. The IRA and its political arm, Sinn Fein, became powerhouses for the struggle and while one went the way of pure violence, the other went the way of pure politicism – it was a two headed assault on Britain that would not be quelled.
A few short years later, Sinn Fein won a majority of seats in British Parliament and thus began the Irish War of Independence, which would see Britain relinquish the 26 counties that comprise the Republic of Ireland today, but also keep the 6 counties in the North for itself. Some day that Ireland won’t be whole until the 6 counties in the North are returned, I happen to be one of those people.
Getting back to the Easter Rising of 1916 – it might have been short and vicious, but it also was romantic in a way. The way the leaders of the movement, specifically Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and Joseph Plunkett, provided the encouragement at a time when an entire people needed them most was amazing. I urge anyone who wants to learn more about Irish history to log on to Google and discover all there is to this very important six days in the history of a people who have been enslaved, tortured and put through more adversity and racism than you could imagine.
That’s right, I said racism. The kind of vicious, unyielding and relentless racism that very few people have had to endure in the history of man. Go on, read what you can, and then understand why Irish people are the way they are deep down – both angry and so very kind all at the same time.
Running the risk of being non-PC – I wish you all a Happy Easter. #GMK