Leaders and Men of the Easter Rising is a compilation of essays that were originally part of the Thomas Davis lecture series broadcasted on Radio Telefis Eirann (Irish Public Radio) in 1965. The lectures have been edited for print by F.X. Martin, who also produced the original radio series. In the editor’s words, “The contributions are intended to cover as many aspects as possible of the events of Easter Week, 1916.” Martin considers his compilation “…the first attempt at a cool appraisal of the Easter Rising in the context of the Ireland of its time.”
The essays are organized loosely by topic. The first few chapters review Ireland’s governmental structure of the time, how its current leaders came to be, and how their predecessors had ruled Ireland. It goes on to the members of parliament and their history, and then the remainder of the book details the movements of the men and their followers who started Ireland on the path to independence from England
The essays do cover many aspects of the events leading up to the rebellion, so in that way the book accomplishes what it sets out to. However, the lectures do not convert well to print, and tend to be repetitive, making the timeline somewhat confusing. Also, since the lectures are meant for an Irish audience, some details are left unexplained. For example, the editor assumes I know what Radio Telefis Eirann is . . . I have to guess that it’s Irish Public Radio. Overall, I thought the book was repetitive and a little hard to follow, but I was able to learn a lot about Irish politics, and the events leading up to the Easter Rising of 1916.
Political Unrest in Ireland There has been a continuing conflict in Ireland that has been going on for decades, and affects the world to this day. It is essentially a political and religious struggle between several groups. The British have played a key role in the situation since the early 1900's, and even more distant into the past. Origins of the Conflict The conflict in Ireland has its roots ...
Ireland’s Pre World War I governmental structure consisted of three central figures; The Lord Lieutenant, The Chief Secretary, and The Under Secretary. Lord Wimborne, who was appointed in 1914, filled the role of Lord Lieutenant, and acted primarily as a state figurehead. Ireland’s real policy maker was its Chief Secretary, a position held since 1906 by Augustine Birrell. Birrell was a member of England’s Parliament, and opposed to complete separation from her. The Under Secretary was Sir Matthew Nathan. His role was primarily that of policy enforcer.
In an attempt to better understand the public opinion in Ireland, Birrell and Nathan met regularly with the chairman of the Irish Parliamentary party, John Redmond and his loyal friend John Dilllon. However, in the years preceding WWI, Chief Secretary Birrell ignored reports of increased tensions in the country, even reports given to him by Nathan and the Royal Irish Constabulary.
With the onset of the war, discontent in Ireland continued to increase. The Home Rule Law, which at least gave Ireland minimal freedoms to self govern, would be lifted for the duration of the war. There would be a draft. This news combined with the general stresses of war set the stage for an uprising of the Irish people.
Several previous attempts to overthrow British rule had been unsuccessful, but had created many anti-British factions in Ireland. These factions, along with the Irish National Council, Cumann na Gael, and members of the separatist Dungannon Clubs merged together in 1907 and formed the Sinn Fein political party. The Sinn Fein unified and consolidated these separatist movements.
Sinn Fein was only one of the organized groups of Irishmen that was affecting British rule over Ireland. Another was the Irish Republican Brotherhood (I.R.B.), which had been around since the first revolts against Britain in the early 19th century. The I.R.B. was directed by Dennis McCullough, who was elected President of its supreme council in 1915. Other important players in the I.R.B. were Sean McDermott, the national organizer, and Tom Clark, the brotherhood’s link to the Clan na Gael in America. The American Clan na Gael served as the chief financial support for the I.R.B.
History: Early Days: The first people arrived in Ireland and came from Scandinavia to Scotland and then from Scotland to Ireland. They were a Stone Age people and lived by hunting, farming and fishing. The next groups were the Bronze Age people from southern Europe who skilled metal-workers. The Celts followed around 200 BC coming to Ireland from France and Spain. They brought their own language ...
The new members of the supreme council had different views than their predecessors when it came to the topic of insurrection against England. The new leaders even went so far as to expel older members who spoke out against the idea of an armed uprising. The new leaders did not want to fail as previous revolts had, due to divided leadership and inadequate preparation.
In November 1913, the Irish Volunteers were established. They were formed as a front for the I.R.B., who had great influence over their members. Eion McNeill was the first leader or the Volunteers, but in 1914, the group spilt into two factions. The majority followed John Redmond and became the National Volunteers, allied with England. The rest remained opposed to British rule and stayed with McNeill.
In May 1915, the members of the I.R.B. Supreme Council organized a secret planning committee that consisted of Patrick Pearse, Joseph Plunkett, Eamonn Ceanny, Sean McDermott, Tom Clarke and Thomas McDonough, Their sole objective was to deliver sovereignty to Ireland.