Easter 1916

Neil Jordan’s film “Michael Collins” begins its story with the Easter Rising of 1916. The uprising was a cataclysmic event in Irish history: an attempt by Irish Nationalists to invoke the 1912 Home Rule Bill that had never been implemented. The insurrection ended almost as soon as it began.

On Easter Monday, 1916, a force of armed men and women numbering around 1,500 attempted to take Dublin and to create an independent Ireland.

The leaders of the Easter Rising, Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Sean MacDermott, Joseph Plunkett and Eamonn Ceannt were each executed for their part in the Easter Rising. These men had driven the Irish republicanism movement and had signed the Proclamation of the Republic. Michael Collins was only a minor character during Easter 1916 but would become a major figure in Ireland’s War of Independence.

Easter 1916 was a turning point for the movement of Irish Nationalism. Irish Republican Brotherhood leaders Padraig Pearse and James Connolly seemed intent on establishing the cause of independence through a formal understanding of justified insurrection and through formal declaration of hostilities. Following the defeat, however, Michael Collins moved to a system of armed insurrection that would today be considered as terrorist acts.

Pearse, Connolly and the other signatories became martyred heroes for the cause of nationalist independance. Their awareness of the futility of their actions was perhaps more important to the cause of independence than any success could.

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