Prehistoric Ireland spans a period from the first known evidence of human presence dated to about 7,000 BC until the emergence of "protohistoric" Gaelic Ireland at the time of Christianization in the 5th century. Christianity subsumed or replaced the earlier polytheism and other forms of Celtic paganism by the end of the 7th century.
The Norman invasion of the late 12th century marked the beginning of more than 800 years of direct English rule and, later, British involvement in Ireland. In 1177 Prince John Lackland was made Lord of Ireland by his father Henry II of England at the Council of Oxford. The Crown did not attempt to assert full control of the island until the rebellion of the Earl of Kildare threatened English hegemony. Henry VIII proclaimed himself King of Ireland and also tried to introduce the English Reformation, which failed in Ireland. Attempts to either conquer or assimilate the Irish lordships into the Kingdom of Ireland provided the initial impetus for a series of Irish military campaigns between 1534 and 1603. This period was marked by a Crown policy of plantation, involving the arrival of thousands of English and ScottishProtestant settlers, and the consequent displacement of the pre-plantation Catholic landholders. As the military and political defeat of Gaelic Ireland became more pronounced in the early seventeenth century, sectarian conflict became a recurrent theme in Irish history.
The 1614 overthrow of the Catholic majority in the Irish Parliament was realised principally through the creation of numerous new boroughs which were dominated by the new settlers. By the end of the seventeenth century, recusants (as adherents to the older religion were now termed), representing some 85% of Ireland's population, were then banned from the Irish Parliament. Protestant domination of Ireland was confirmed after two periods of war between Catholics and Protestants in 1641-52 and 1689-91. Political power thereafter rested entirely in the hands of a Protestant Ascendancy minority, while Catholics and members of dissenting Protestant denominations suffered severe political and economic privations under the Penal Laws. The Irish Parliament was abolished from 1 January 1801 in the wake of the republicanUnited Irishmen Rebellion and Ireland became an integral part of a new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the provisions of the Acts of Union 1800. Although promised a repeal of the Test Act, Catholics were not granted full rights until Catholic Emancipation was attained throughout the new UK in 1829. This was followed by the first Irish Reform Act 1832, a principal condition of which was the removal of the poorer Irish freeholders from the franchise.
The Irish Parliamentary Party strove from the 1880s to attain Home Rule through the parliamentary constitutional movement, eventually winning the Home Rule Act 1914, although this Act was suspended at the outbreak of World War I. The Easter Rising staged by republicans two years later brought physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics.
In 1922, after the Irish War of Independence and the Anglo-Irish Treaty, most of Ireland seceded from the United Kingdom to become the independent Irish Free State, which after the 1937 constitution, began to call itself Ireland. The six northeastern counties, known as Northern Ireland, remained within the United Kingdom. The Irish Civil War followed soon after the War of Independence. The history of Northern Ireland has since been dominated by sporadic sectarian conflict between (mainly Catholic) Irish nationalists and (mainly Protestant) unionists. This conflict erupted into the Troubles in the late 1960s, until peace was achieved with the Belfast Agreement thirty years later.
Prehistory (10,500 BC–400 AD)
Main article: Prehistoric Ireland
Stone Age to Bronze Age
What is known of pre-Christian Ireland comes from references in Roman writings, Irish poetry and myth, and archaeology. While some possible Paleolithic tools have been found, none of the finds are convincing of Paleolithic settlement in Ireland. However a bear bone found in Alice and Gwendoline Cave, County Clare, in 1903 may push back dates for the earliest human settlement of Ireland to 10,500 BC. The bone shows clear signs of cut marks with stone tools, and has been radiocarbon dated to 12,500 years ago.
The earliest confirmed inhabitants of Ireland were Mesolithichunter-gatherers, who arrived some time around 8000 BC. While some authors take the view that a land bridge connecting Ireland to Great Britain still existed at that time, more recent studies indicate that Ireland was separated from Britain by c. 14,000 BC, when the climate was still cold and local ice caps persisted in parts of the country. The people remained hunter-gatherers until about 4000 BC. It is argued this is when the first signs of agriculture started to show, leading to the establishment of a Neolithic culture, characterised by the appearance of pottery, polished stone tools, rectangular wooden houses, megalithic tombs, and domesticated sheep and cattle. Some of these tombs, as at Knowth and Dowth, are huge stone monuments and many of them, such as the Passage Tombs of Newgrange, are astronomically aligned. Four main types of Irish Megalithic Tombs have been identified: dolmens, court cairns, passage tombs and wedge-shaped gallery graves. In Leinster and Munster, individual adult males were buried in small stone structures, called cists, under earthen mounds and were accompanied by distinctive decorated pottery. This culture apparently prospered, and the island became more densely populated. Near the end of the Neolithic new types of monuments developed, such as circular embanked enclosures and timber, stone and post and pit circles.
The Bronze Age, which came to Ireland around 2000 BC, saw the production of elaborate gold and bronze ornaments, weapons and tools. There was a movement away from the construction of communal megalithic tombs to the burial of the dead in small stone cists or simple pits, which could be situated in cemeteries or in circular earth or stone built burial mounds known respectively as barrows and cairns. As the period progressed, inhumation burial gave way to cremation and by the Middle Bronze Age, remains were often placed beneath large burial urns.
Main article: Hibernia
The Iron Age in Ireland began about 600 BC. The period between the start of the Iron Age and the historic period (431 AD) saw the gradual infiltration of small groups of Celtic-speaking people into Ireland, with items of the continental Celtic La Tene style being found in at least the northern part of the island by about 300 BC. The result of a gradual blending of Celtic and indigenous cultures would result in the emergence of Gaelic culture by the fifth century. It is also during the fifth century that the main over-kingdoms of In Tuisceart, Airgialla, Ulaid, Mide, Laigin, Mumhain, Cóiced Ol nEchmacht began to emerge (see Kingdoms of ancient Ireland). Within these kingdoms a rich culture flourished. The society of these kingdoms was dominated by an upper class consisting of aristocratic warriors and learned people, which possibly included Druids.
Linguists realised from the 17th century onwards that the language spoken by these people, the Goidelic languages, was a branch of the Celtic languages. This is usually explained as a result of invasions by Celts from the continent. However, other research has postulated that the culture developed gradually and continuously, and that the introduction of Celtic language and elements of Celtic culture may have been a result of cultural exchange with Celtic groups in southwest continental Europe from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age.
The hypothesis that the native Late Bronze Age inhabitants gradually absorbed Celtic influences has since been supported by some recent genetic research.[need quotation to verify]
The Romans referred to Ireland as Hibernia. Ptolemy, in 100 AD, recorded Ireland's geography and tribes. Ireland was never a part of the Roman Empire, but Roman influence was often projected well beyond its borders. Tacitus writes that an exiled Irish prince was with Agricola in Roman Britain and would return to seize power in Ireland. Juvenal tells us that Roman "arms had been taken beyond the shores of Ireland". In recent years, some experts have hypothesized that Roman-sponsored Gaelic forces (or perhaps even Roman regulars) mounted some kind of invasion around 100 AD, but the exact relationship between Rome and the dynasties and peoples of Hibernia remains unclear.
Irish confederations (the Scoti) attacked and some settled in Britain during the Great Conspiracy of 367. In particular, the Dál Riata settled in western Scotland and the Western Isles.
Early Christian Ireland (400–800)
Main article: History of Ireland (400–800)
The middle centuries of the first millennium AD marked great changes in Ireland. Politically, what appears to have been a prehistoric emphasis on tribal affiliation had been replaced by the 8th century by patrilineal dynasties ruling the island's kingdoms. Many formerly powerful kingdoms and peoples disappeared. Irish pirates struck all over the coast of western Britain in the same way that the Vikings would later attack Ireland. Some of these founded entirely new kingdoms in Pictland and, to a lesser degree, in parts of Cornwall, Wales, and Cumbria. The Attacotti of south Leinster may even have served in the Roman military in the mid-to-late 300s.
Perhaps it was some of the latter returning home as rich mercenaries, merchants, or slaves stolen from Britain or Gaul, that first brought the Christian faith to Ireland. Some early sources claim that there were missionaries active in southern Ireland long before St. Patrick. Whatever the route, and there were probably many, this new faith was to have the most profound effect on the Irish.
Tradition maintains that in A.D. 432, St. Patrick arrived on the island and, in the years that followed, worked to convert the Irish to Christianity. St Patrick's Confession, in Latin, written by him is the earliest Irish historical document. It gives some information about the Saint. On the other hand, according to Prosper of Aquitaine, a contemporary chronicler, Palladius was sent to Ireland by the Pope in 431 as "first Bishop to the Irish believing in Christ", which demonstrates that there were already Christians living in Ireland. Palladius seems to have worked purely as Bishop to Irish Christians in the Leinster and Meath kingdoms, while Patrick – who may have arrived as late as 461 – worked first and foremost as a missionary to the pagan Irish, in the more remote kingdoms in Ulster and Connacht.
Patrick is traditionally credited with preserving and codifying Irish laws and changing only those that conflicted with Christian practices. He is credited with introducing the Roman alphabet, which enabled Irish monks to preserve parts of the extensive oral literature. The historicity of these claims remains the subject of debate and there is no direct evidence linking Patrick with any of these accomplishments. The myth of Patrick, as scholars refer to it, was developed in the centuries after his death.
Irish scholars excelled in the study of Latin learning and Christian theology in the monasteries that flourished shortly thereafter. Missionaries from Ireland to England and Continental Europe spread news of the flowering of learning, and scholars from other nations came to Irish monasteries. The excellence and isolation of these monasteries helped preserve Latin learning during the Early Middle Ages. The period of Insular art, mainly in the fields of illuminated manuscripts, metalworking, and sculpture flourished and produced such treasures as the Book of Kells, the Ardagh Chalice, and the many carved stone crosses that dot the island. Insular style was to be a crucial ingredient in the formation of the Romanesque and Gothic styles throughout Western Europe. Sites dating to this period include clochans, ringforts and promontory forts.
Francis John Byrne describes the effect of the epidemics which occurred during this era:
The plagues of the 660s and the 680s had a traumatic effect on Irish society. The golden age of the saints was over, together with the generation of kings who could fire a saga-writer's imagination. The literary tradition looks back to the reign of the sons of Aed Slaine (Diarmait and Blathmac, who died in 665) as to the end of an era. Antiquaries, brehons, genealogists and hagiographers, felt the need to collect ancient traditions before they were totally forgotten. Many were in fact swallowed by oblivion; when we examine the writing of Tirechan we encounter obscure references to tribes which are quite unknown to the later genealogical tradition. The laws describe a ... society that was obsolescent, and the meaning and use of the word moccu dies out with archaic Old Irish at the beginning of the new century.
The first English involvement in Ireland took place in this period. Tullylease, Rath Melsigi and Maigh Eo na Saxain were founded by 670 for English students who wished to study or live in Ireland. In summer 684, an English expeditionary force sent by Northumbrian King Ecgfrith raided Brega.
Early medieval and Viking era (800–1166)
Main article: Early Medieval Ireland 800–1166
The first recorded Viking raid in Irish history occurred in 795 AD when Vikings from Norway looted the island. Early Viking raids were generally fast-paced and small in scale. These early raids interrupted the golden age of Christian Irish culture and marked the beginning of two centuries of intermittent warfare, with waves of Viking raiders plundering monasteries and towns throughout Ireland. Most of those early raiders came from western Norway.
The Vikings were expert sailors, who travelled in longships, and by the early 840s AD, had begun to establish settlements along the Irish coasts and to spend the winter months there. Vikings founded settlements in several places; most famously in Dublin. Written accounts from this time (early to mid 840s) show that the Vikings were moving further inland to attack (often using rivers) and then retreating to their coastal headquarters.
In 852 AD, the Vikings landed in Dublin Bay and established a fortress. After several generations a group of mixed Irish and Norse ethnic background arose, the Gall-Gaels, '(Gall being the Old Irish word for foreign).
In 902 AD, the Vikings were pushed out of Ireland by the Irish king Muirecán. They were allowed by the Saxons to settle in Wirral, England, but would however later return to retake Dublin. However, the Vikings never achieved total domination of Ireland, often fighting for and against various Irish kings. The Battle of Clontarf in 1014 began the decline of Viking power in Ireland but the towns which Vikings had founded continued to flourish, and trade became an important part of the Irish economy.
Norman Ireland (1168–1535)
Main article: Norman Ireland
Arrival of the Normans
Main article: Norman invasion of Ireland
By the 12th century, Ireland was divided politically into a shifting hierarchy of petty kingdoms and over-kingdoms. Power was exercised by the heads of a few regional dynasties vying against each other for supremacy over the whole island. One of these men, King Diarmait Mac Murchada of Leinster was forcibly exiled by the new High King, Ruaidri mac Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair of the Western kingdom of Connacht. Fleeing to Aquitaine, Diarmait obtained permission from Henry II to recruit Norman knights to regain his kingdom. The first Norman knight landed in Ireland in 1167, followed by the main forces of Normans, Welsh and Flemings. Several counties were restored to the control of Diarmait, who named his son-in-law, the Norman Richard de Clare, known as Strongbow, heir to his kingdom. This troubled King Henry, who feared the establishment of a rival Norman state in Ireland. Accordingly, he resolved to establish his authority.
With the authority of the papal bull Laudabiliter from Adrian IV, Henry landed with a large fleet at Waterford in 1171, becoming the first King of England to set foot on Irish soil. Henry awarded his Irish territories to his younger son John with the title Dominus Hiberniae ("Lord of Ireland"). When John unexpectedly succeeded his brother as King John of England, the "Lordship of Ireland" fell directly under the English Crown.
Lordship of Ireland
Main article: Lordship of Ireland
The Normans initially controlled the entire east coast, from Waterford to eastern Ulster, and penetrated a considerable distance inland as well. The counties were ruled by many smaller kings. The first Lord of Ireland was King John, who visited Ireland in 1185 and 1210 and helped consolidate the Norman-controlled areas, while ensuring that the many Irish kings swore fealty to him.
Throughout the thirteenth century the policy of the English Kings was to weaken the power of the Norman Lords in Ireland. For example, King John encouraged Hugh de Lacy to destabilise and then overthrow the Lord of Ulster, before naming him as the first Earl of Ulster. The Hiberno-Norman community suffered from a series of invasions that ceased the spread of their settlement and power. Politics and events in Gaelic Ireland served to draw the settlers deeper into the orbit of the Irish.
Gaelic resurgence and Norman decline
By 1261 the weakening of the Normans had become manifest when Fineen MacCarthy defeated a Norman army at the Battle of Callann. The war continued between the different lords and earls for about 100 years, causing much destruction, especially around Dublin. In this chaotic situation, local Irish lords won back large amounts of land that their families had lost since the conquest and held them after the war was over.
The Black Death arrived in Ireland in 1348. Because most of the English and Norman inhabitants of Ireland lived in towns and villages, the plague hit them far harder than it did the native Irish, who lived in more dispersed rural settlements. After it had passed, Gaelic Irish language and customs came to dominate the country again. The English-controlled territory shrank to a fortified area around Dublin (the Pale), whose rulers had little real authority outside (beyond the Pale).
By the end of the 15th century, central English authority in Ireland had almost disappeared. England's attentions were diverted by the Wars of the Roses. The Lordship of Ireland lay in the hands of the powerful Fitzgerald Earl of Kildare, who dominated the country by means of military force and alliances with Irish lords and clans. Around the country, local Gaelic and Gaelicised lords expanded their powers at the expense of the English government in Dublin but the power of the Dublin government was seriously curtailed by the introduction of Poynings' Law in 1494. According to this act the Irish Parliament was essentially put under the control of the Westminster Parliament.
Early modern Ireland (1536–1691)
Main article: Ireland 1536–1691
Conquest and rebellion
Main articles: Tudor conquest of Ireland and Kingdom of Ireland
From 1536, Henry VIII decided to conquer Ireland and bring it under crown control. The Fitzgerald dynasty of Kildare, who had become the effective rulers of Ireland in the 15th century, had become unreliable allies of the Tudor monarchs. They had invited Burgundian troops into Dublin to crown the Yorkist pretender, Lambert Simnel as King of England in 1487. Again in 1536, Silken Thomas Fitzgerald went into open rebellion against the crown. Having put down this rebellion, Henry resolved to bring Ireland under English government control so the island would not become a base for future rebellions or foreign invasions of England. In 1541, he upgraded Ireland from a lordship to a full Kingdom. Henry was proclaimed King of Ireland at a meeting of the Irish Parliament that year. This was the first meeting of the Irish Parliament to be attended by the Gaelic Irish chieftains as well as the Hiberno-Norman aristocracy. With the institutions of government in place, the next step was to extend the control of the English Kingdom of Ireland over all of its claimed territory. This took nearly a century, with various English administrations either negotiating or fighting with the independent Irish and Old English lords. The Spanish Armada in Ireland suffered heavy losses during an extraordinary season of storms in the autumn of 1588. Among the survivors was Captain Francisco de Cuellar, who gave a remarkable account of his experiences on the run in Ireland.
The re-conquest was completed during the reigns of Elizabeth and James I, after several brutal conflicts. (See the Desmond Rebellions, 1569–73 and 1579–83, and the Nine Years War, 1594–1603, for details.) After this point, the English authorities in Dublin established real control over Ireland for the first time, bringing a centralised government to the entire island, and successfully disarmed the native lordships. However, the English were not successful in converting the Catholic Irish to the Protestant religion and the brutal methods used by crown authority (including resorting to martial law) to bring the country under English control, heightened resentment of English rule.
From the mid-16th to the early 17th century, crown governments carried out a policy of land confiscation and colonisation known as Plantations. Scottish and English Protestant colonists were sent to the provinces of Munster, Ulster and the counties of Laois and Offaly. These Protestant settlers replaced the Irish Catholic landowners who were removed from their lands. These settlers formed the ruling class of future British appointed administrations in Ireland. Several Penal Laws, aimed at Catholics, Baptists and Presbyterians, were introduced to encourage conversion to the established (Anglican) Church of Ireland.
Wars and penal laws
The 17th century was perhaps the bloodiest in Ireland's history. Two periods of war (1641–53 and 1689–91) caused huge loss of life. The ultimate dispossession of most of the Irish Catholic landowning class was engineered, and recusants were subordinated under the Penal Laws.
During the 17th century, Ireland was convulsed by eleven years of warfare, beginning with the Rebellion of 1641, when Irish Catholics rebelled against the domination of English and Protestant settlers. The Catholic gentry briefly ruled the country as Confederate Ireland (1642–1649) against the background of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms until Oliver Cromwellreconquered Ireland in 1649–1653 on behalf of the English Commonwealth. Cromwell's conquest was the most brutal phase of the war. By its close, up to more than a half of Ireland's pre-war population was killed or exiled as slaves, where many died due to harsh conditions. As retribution for the rebellion of 1641, the better-quality remaining lands owned by Irish Catholics were confiscated and given to British settlers. Several hundred remaining native landowners were transplanted to Connacht.
Ireland became the main battleground after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, when the Catholic James II left London and the English Parliament replaced him with William of Orange. The wealthier Irish Catholics backed James to try to reverse the Penal Laws and land confiscations, whereas Protestants supported William and Mary in this "Glorious Revolution" to preserve their property in the country. James and William fought for the Kingdom of Ireland in the Williamite War, most famously at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, where James's outnumbered forces were defeated.
From the 15th to the 18th century, Irish, English, Scots and Welsh prisoners were transported for forced labor in the Caribbean to work off their term of punishment. Even larger numbers came voluntarily as indentured servants. In the 18th century they were sent to the American colonies, and in the early 19th century to Australia. The Irish were dehumanised by the English, described as "savages," so making their displacement appear all the more justified. In 1654 the British parliament gave Oliver Cromwell a free hand to banish Irish "undesirables". Cromwell rounded up Catholics throughout the Irish countryside and placed them on ships bound for the Caribbean, mainly the island of Barbados. By 1655, 12,000 political prisoners had been forcibly shipped to Barbados and into indentured servitude.
Protestant ascendancy (1691–1801)
Main article: Ireland 1691–1801
See also: Protestant Ascendancy
The majority of the people of Ireland were Catholic peasants; they were very poor and largely inert politically during the eighteenth century, as many of their leaders converted to Protestantism to avoid severe economic and political penalties. Nevertheless, there was a growing Catholic cultural awakening underway. There were two Protestant groups. The Presbyterians in Ulster in the North lived in much better economic conditions, but had virtually no political power. Power was held by a small group of Anglo-Irish families, who were loyal to the Anglican Church of Ireland. They owned the great bulk of the farmland, where the work was done by the Catholic peasants. Many of these families lived in England and were absentee landlords, whose loyalty was basically to England. The Anglo-Irish who lived in Ireland became increasingly identified as Irish nationalists, and were resentful of the English control of their island. Their spokesmen, such as Jonathan Swift and Edmund Burke, sought more local control.
Jacobite resistance in Ireland was finally ended after the Battle of Aughrim in July 1691. The Penal Laws that had been relaxed somewhat after the Restoration were reinforced more thoroughly after this war, as the infant Anglo-Irish Ascendency wanted to ensure that the Irish Roman Catholics would not be in a position to repeat their rebellions. Power was held by the 5% who were Protestants belonging to the Church of Ireland. They controlled all major sectors of the Irish economy, the bulk of the farmland, the legal system, local government and held strong majorities in both houses of the Irish Parliament. They strongly distrusted the Presbyterians in Ulster, and were convinced that the Catholics should have minimal rights. They did not have full political control because the government in London had superior authority and treated Ireland like a backward colony. When the American colonies revolted in the 1770s, the Ascendency wrested multiple concessions to strengthen its power. They did not seek independence because they knew they were heavily outnumbered and ultimately depended upon the British Army to guarantee their security.
Subsequent Irish antagonism toward England was aggravated by the economic situation of Ireland in the 18th century. Some absentee landlords managed their estates inefficiently, and food tended to be produced for export rather than for domestic consumption. Two very cold winters near the end of the Little Ice Age led directly to a famine between 1740 and 1741, which killed about 400,000 people and caused over 150,000 Irish to leave the island. In addition, Irish exports were reduced by the Navigation Acts from the 1660s, which placed tariffs on Irish products entering England, but exempted English goods from tariffs on entering Ireland. Despite this most of the 18th century was relatively peaceful in comparison with the preceding two centuries, and the population doubled to over four million.
By the 18th century, the Anglo-Irish ruling class had come to see Ireland, not England, as their native country. A Parliamentary faction led by Henry Grattan agitated for a more favourable trading relationship with Great Britain and for greater legislative independence for the Irish Parliament. However, reform in Ireland stalled over the more radical proposals toward enfranchising Irish Catholics. This was partially enabled in 1793, but Catholics could not yet become members of the Irish Parliament, or become government officials. Some were attracted to the more militant example of the French Revolution of 1789.
Presbyterians and Dissenters too faced persecution on a lesser scale, and in 1791 a group of dissident Protestant individuals, all of whom but two were Presbyterians, held the first meeting of what would become the Society of the United Irishmen. Originally they sought to reform the Irish Parliament which was controlled by those belonging to the state church; seek Catholic Emancipation; and help remove religion from politics. When their ideals seemed unattainable they became more determined to use force to overthrow British rule and found a non-sectarian republic. Their activity culminated in the Irish Rebellion of 1798, which was bloodily suppressed.
Ireland was a separate kingdom ruled by King George III of Britain; he set policy for Ireland through his appointment of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland or viceroy. In practice, the viceroys lived in England and the affairs in the island were largely controlled by an elite group of Irish Protestants known as "undertakers." The system changed in 1767, with the appointment of An English politician who became a very strong Viceroy. George Townshend served 1767-72 and was in residence in The Castle in Dublin. Townsend had the strong support of both the King and the British cabinet in London, and all major decisions were basically made in London. The Ascendancy complained, and obtained a series of new laws in the 1780s that made the Irish Parliament effective and independent of the British Parliament, although still under the supervision of the king and his Privy Council.
Largely in response to the 1798 rebellion, Irish self-government was ended altogether by the provisions of the Acts of Union 1800 (which abolished the Irish Parliament of that era).
Union with Great Britain (1801–1912)
Main article: Ireland 1801–1922
In 1800, following the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the Irish and the British parliaments enacted the Acts of Union. The merger created a new political entity called United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland with effect from 1 January 1801. Part of the agreement forming the basis of union was that the Test Act would be repealed to remove any remaining discrimination against Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists and other dissenter religions in the newly United Kingdom. However, King George III, invoking the provisions of the Act of Settlement 1701 controversially and adamantly blocked attempts by Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger. Pitt resigned in protest, but his successor Henry Addington and his new cabinet failed to legislate to repeal or change the Test Act.
In 1823 an enterprising Catholic lawyer, Daniel O'Connell, known in Ireland as 'The Liberator' began an ultimately successful Irish campaign to achieve emancipation, and to be seated in the Parliament. This culminated in O'Connell's successful election in the Clare by-election, which revived the parliamentary efforts at reform. The Catholic Relief Act 1829 was eventually approved by the UK parliament under the leadership of the Dublin-born Prime Minister, the Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. This indefatigable Anglo-Irish statesman, a former Chief Secretary for Ireland, and hero of the Napoleonic Wars, successfully guided the legislation through both houses of Parliament. By threatening to resign, he persuaded King George IV to sign the bill into law in 1829. The continuing obligation of Roman Catholics to fund the established Church of Ireland, however, led to the sporadic skirmishes of the Tithe War of 1831–38. The Church was disestablished by the Gladstone government in 1867. The continuing enactment of parliamentary reform during the ensuing administrations further extended the initially limited franchise. Daniel O'Connell M.P. later led the Repeal Association in an unsuccessful campaign to undo the Act of Union 1800.
The second of Ireland's "Great Famines", An Gorta Mór struck the country during 1845–49, with potato blight, exacerbated by the political factors of the time leading to mass starvation and emigration. (See Great Irish Famine) The impact of emigration in Ireland was severe; the population dropped from over 8 million before the Famine to 4.4 million in 1911. Gaelic or Irish, once the island's spoken language, declined in use sharply in the nineteenth century as a result of the Famine and the creation of the National School education system, as well as hostility to the language from leading Irish politicians of the time; it was largely replaced by English.
Outside mainstream nationalism, a series of violent rebellions by Irish republicans took place in 1803, under Robert Emmet; in 1848 a rebellion by the Young Irelanders, most prominent among them, Thomas Francis Meagher; and in 1867, another insurrection by the Irish Republican Brotherhood. All failed, but physical force nationalism remained an undercurrent in the nineteenth century.
The late 19th century witnessed major land reform, spearheaded by the Land League under Michael Davitt demanding what became known as the
Forty years later, Irish Catholics, known as "Jacobites", fought for James from 1688 to 1691, but failed to restore James to the throne of Ireland, England and Scotland.
This article is about events of 1916 in Ireland. For the unconnected 2004 US musical, see Easter Rising (musical).
The Easter Rising (Irish: Éirí Amach na Cásca), also known as the Easter Rebellion, was an armed insurrection in Ireland during Easter Week, April 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 the First World War. It was the most significant uprising in Ireland since the rebellion of 1798, and the first armed action of the Irish revolutionary period.
Organised by a seven-man 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 women of Cumann na mBan—seized key locations in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish Republic. The British Army brought in thousands of reinforcements as well as artillery and a gunboat. There was fierce street fighting on the routes into the city centre, where the rebels put up stiff resistance, slowing the British advance and inflicting heavy casualties. Elsewhere in Dublin, the fighting mainly consisted of sniping and long-range gun battles. The main rebel positions were gradually surrounded and bombarded with artillery. There were isolated actions in other parts of Ireland, with attacks on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks at Ashbourne, County Meath, County Cork and in County Galway, and the seizure of the town of Enniscorthy, County Wexford. Germany had sent a shipment of arms to the rebels, but the British had intercepted it just before the Rising began. Volunteer leader Eoin MacNeill had then issued a countermand in a bid to halt the Rising, which greatly reduced the number of rebels who mobilised.
With much greater numbers and heavier weapons, the British Army suppressed the Rising. Pearse agreed to an unconditional surrender on Saturday 29 April, although sporadic fighting continued until Sunday, when word reached the other rebel positions. After the surrender the country remained under martial law. About 3,500 people were taken prisoner by the British, many of whom had 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. The Rising brought physical force republicanism back to the forefront of Irish politics, which for nearly 50 years had been dominated by constitutional nationalism. It, and the British reaction to it, led to increased popular support for Irish independence. In December 1918, republicans, represented by the reconstituted Sinn Féin party, won a landslide victory in the general election to the British Parliament. They did not take their seats, but instead convened the First Dáil and declared the independence of the Irish Republic. The Soloheadbeg ambush started the War of Independence.
485 people were killed in the Easter Rising. About 54% were civilians, 30% were British military and police, and 16% were Irish rebels. More than 2,600 were wounded. Many of the civilians were killed as a result of the British using artillery and heavy machine guns, or mistaking civilians for rebels. Others were caught in the crossfire in a crowded city. The shelling and the fires it caused left parts of inner city Dublin in ruins.
The Acts of Union 1800 united the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, abolishing the Irish Parliament and giving Ireland representation in the British Parliament. From early on, many Irish nationalists opposed the union and the ensuing exploitation and impoverishment of the island, which led to a high level of depopulation. Opposition took various forms: constitutional (the Repeal Association; the Home Rule League), social (disestablishment of the Church of Ireland; the Land League) and revolutionary (Rebellion of 1848; Fenian Rising). The Irish Home Rule movement sought to achieve self-government for Ireland, within the United Kingdom. In 1886, the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) under Charles Stewart Parnell succeeded in having the First Home Rule Bill introduced in the British parliament, but it was defeated. The Second Home Rule Bill of 1893 was passed by the House of Commons but rejected by the House of Lords.
After the fall of Parnell, younger and more radical nationalists became disillusioned with parliamentary politics and turned toward more extreme forms of separatism. The Gaelic Athletic Association, the Gaelic League and the cultural revival under W. B. Yeats and Lady Augusta Gregory, together with the new political thinking of Arthur Griffith expressed in his newspaper Sinn Féin and organisations such as the National Council and the Sinn Féin League, led many Irish people to identify with the idea of an independent Gaelic Ireland. This was sometimes referred to by the generic term Sinn Féin.
The Third Home Rule Bill was introduced by British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith in 1912. Unionists, who were Protestant, opposed it, as they did not want to be ruled by a Catholic-dominated Irish government. Led by Sir Edward Carson and James Craig, they formed the Ulster Volunteers (UVF) in January 1913. In response, Irish nationalists formed a rival paramilitary group, the Irish Volunteers, in November 1913. The Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) was a driving force behind the Irish Volunteers and attempted to control it. Its leader was Eoin MacNeill, who was not an IRB member. The Irish Volunteers' stated goal was "to secure and to maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland". It included people with a range of political views, and was open to "all able-bodied Irishmen without distinction of creed, politics or social group". Another militant group, the Irish Citizen Army, was formed by trade unionists as a result of the Dublin Lock-out of that year. When the Irish Volunteers smuggled rifles into Dublin, the British Army attempted to stop them and fired into a crowd of civilians. British Army officers then threatened to resign if they were ordered to take action against the UVF. By 1914, Ireland seemed to be on the brink of a civil war. The crisis was ended in August that year by the outbreak of World War I and Ireland's involvement in it. The Home Rule Bill was enacted, but its implementation was postponed by a suspensory act until the end of the war.
Planning the Rising
The Supreme Council of the IRB met on 5 September 1914, just over a month after the British government had declared war on Germany. At this meeting, they decided to stage an uprising before the war ended and to secure help from Germany. Responsibility for the planning of the rising was given to Tom Clarke and Seán MacDermott (Mac Diarmada). The Irish Volunteers—the smaller of the two forces resulting from the September 1914 split over support for the British war effort—set up a "headquarters staff" that included Patrick Pearse as Director of Military Organisation, Joseph Plunkett as Director of Military Operations and Thomas MacDonagh as Director of Training. Éamonn Ceannt was later added as Director of Communications.
In May 1915, Clarke and MacDermott established a Military Committee or Military Council within the IRB, consisting of Pearse, Plunkett and Ceannt, to draw up plans for a rising. Clarke and MacDermott joined it shortly after. The Military Council was able to promote its own policies and personnel independently of both the Volunteer Executive and the IRB Executive. Although the Volunteer and IRB leaders were not against a rising in principle, they were of the opinion that it was not opportune at that moment. Volunteer Chief-of-Staff Eoin MacNeill supported a rising only if the British government attempted to suppress the Volunteers or introduce conscription, and if such a rising had some chance of success. IRB President Denis McCullough and prominent IRB member Bulmer Hobson held similar views. The Military Council kept its plans secret, so as to prevent the British authorities learning of the plans, and to thwart those within the organisation who might try to stop the rising. IRB members held officer rank in the Volunteers throughout the country and took their orders from the Military Council, not from MacNeill.
Shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Roger Casement and Clan na Gael leader John Devoy met the German ambassador to the United States, Johann Heinrich von Bernstorff, to discuss German backing for an uprising. Casement went to Germany and began negotiations with the German government and military. He persuaded the Germans to announce their support for Irish independence in November 1914. Casement also attempted to recruit an Irish Brigade, made up of Irish prisoners of war, which would be armed and sent to Ireland to join the uprising. However, only 56 men volunteered. Plunkett joined Casement in Germany the following year. Together, Plunkett and Casement presented a plan (the 'Ireland Report') in which a German expeditionary force would land on the west coast of Ireland, while a rising in Dublin diverted the British forces so that the Germans, with the help of local Volunteers, could secure the line of the River Shannon, before advancing on the capital. The German military rejected the plan, but agreed to ship arms and ammunition to the Volunteers.
James Connolly—head of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA), a group of armed socialist trade union men and women—was unaware of the IRB's plans, and threatened to start a rebellion on his own if other parties failed to act. If they had done it alone, the IRB and the Volunteers would possibly have come to their aid; however, the IRB leaders met with Connolly in January 1916 and convinced him to join forces with them. They agreed that they would launch a rising together at Easter and made Connolly the sixth member of the Military Council. Thomas MacDonagh would later become the seventh and final member.
The death of the old Fenian leader Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa in New York in August 1915 was an opportunity to mount a spectacular demonstration. His body was sent to Ireland for burial in Glasnevin Cemetery, with the Volunteers in charge of arrangements. Huge crowds lined the route and gathered at the graveside. Pearse made a dramatic funeral oration, a rallying call to republicans, which ended with the words "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace".
Build-up to Easter Week
In early April, Pearse issued orders to the Irish Volunteers for three days of "parades and manoeuvres" beginning on Easter Sunday. He had the authority to do this, as the Volunteers' Director of Organisation. The idea was that IRB members within the organisation would know these were orders to begin the rising, while men such as MacNeill and the British authorities would take it at face value.
On 9 April, the German Navy dispatched a ship for County Kerry. Disguised as a Norwegian ship called the Aud, it was loaded with 20,000 rifles, one million rounds of ammunition, and explosives. Casement also left for Ireland aboard the German submarine U-19. He was disappointed with the level of support offered by the Germans and he intended to stop or at least postpone the rising.
On Wednesday 19 April, Alderman Tom Kelly, a Sinn Féin member of Dublin Corporation, read out at a meeting of the Corporation a document supposedly leaked from Dublin Castle, revealing that the British authorities planned to shortly arrest leaders of the Irish Volunteers, Sinn Féin and the Gaelic League, and occupy their premises. Although the British authorities said the "Castle Document" was fake, MacNeill ordered the Volunteers to prepare to resist. Unbeknownst to MacNeill, the document had been forged by the Military Council to persuade moderates of the need for their planned uprising. It was an edited version of a real document outlining British plans in the event of conscription. That same day, the Military Council informed senior Volunteer officers that the rising would begin on Easter Sunday. However, it chose not to inform the rank-and-file, or moderates such as MacNeill, until the last minute.
The following day, MacNeill got wind that a rising was about to be launched and threatened to do everything he could to prevent it, short of informing the British. MacNeill was briefly persuaded to go along with some sort of action when Mac Diarmada revealed to him that a German arms shipment was about to land in County Kerry. MacNeill believed that when the British learned of the shipment they would immediately suppress the Volunteers, thus the Volunteers would be justified in taking defensive action, including the planned manoeuvres.
The Aud and the U-19 reached the coast of Kerry on Good Friday, 21 April. This was earlier than the Volunteers expected and so none were there to meet the vessels. The Royal Navy had known about the arms shipment and intercepted the Aud, prompting the captain to scuttle the ship. Furthermore, Casement was captured shortly after he landed at Banna Strand.
When MacNeill learned from Vol. Patrick Whelan that the arms shipment had been lost, he reverted to his original position. With the support of other leaders of like mind, notably Bulmer Hobson and The O'Rahilly, he issued a countermand to all Volunteers, cancelling all actions for Sunday. This countermanding order was relayed to Volunteer officers and printed in the Sunday morning newspapers. It succeeded in putting the rising off for only a day, although it greatly reduced the number of Volunteers who turned out.
British Naval Intelligence had been aware of the arms shipment, Casement's return, and the Easter date for the rising through radio messages between Germany and its embassy in the United States that were intercepted by the Royal Navy and deciphered in Room 40 of the Admiralty. The information was passed to the Under-Secretary for Ireland, Sir Matthew Nathan, on 17 April, but without revealing its source, and Nathan was doubtful about its accuracy. When news reached Dublin of the capture of the Aud and the arrest of Casement, Nathan conferred with the Lord Lieutenant, Lord Wimborne. Nathan proposed to raid Liberty Hall, headquarters of the Citizen Army, and Volunteer properties at Father Matthew Park and at Kimmage, but Wimborne insisted on wholesale arrests of the leaders. It was decided to postpone action until after Easter Monday, and in the meantime Nathan telegraphed the Chief Secretary, Augustine Birrell, in London seeking his approval. By the time Birrell cabled his reply authorising the action, at noon on Monday 24 April 1916, the Rising had already begun.
On the morning of Easter Sunday, 23 April, the Military Council met at Liberty Hall to discuss what to do in light of MacNeill's countermanding order. They decided that the Rising would go ahead the following day, Easter Monday, and that the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army would go into action as the 'Army of the Irish Republic'. They elected Pearse as president of the Irish Republic, and also as Commander-in-Chief of the army; Connolly became Commandant of the Dublin Brigade. Messengers were then sent to all units informing them of the new orders.
The Rising in Dublin
Main article: First Day of the Easter Rising
On the morning of Monday 24 April, about 1,200 members of the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army mustered at several locations in central Dublin. Among them were members of the all-female Cumann na mBan. Some wore Irish Volunteer and Citizen Army uniforms, while others wore civilian clothes with a yellow Irish Volunteer armband, military hats, and bandoliers. They were armed mostly with rifles (especially 1871 Mausers), but also with shotguns, revolvers, a few Mauser C96 semi-automatic pistols, and grenades. The number of Volunteers who mobilised was much smaller than expected. This was due to MacNeill's countermanding order, and the fact that the new orders had been sent so soon beforehand. However, several hundred Volunteers joined the Rising after it began.
Shortly before midday, the rebels began to seize important sites in central Dublin. The rebels' plan was to hold Dublin city centre. This was a large, oval-shaped area bounded by two canals: the Grand to the south and the Royal to the north, with the River Liffey running through the middle. On the southern and western edges of this district were five British Army barracks. Most of the rebel's positions had been chosen to defend against counter-attacks from these barracks. The rebels took the positions with ease. Civilians were evacuated and policemen were ejected or taken prisoner. Windows and doors were barricaded, food and supplies were secured, and first aid posts were set up. Barricades were erected on the streets to hinder British Army movement.
A joint force of about 400 Volunteers and Citizen Army gathered at Liberty Hall under the command of Commandant James Connolly. This was the headquarters battalion, and it also included Commander-in-Chief Patrick Pearse, as well as Tom Clarke, Seán MacDermott and Joseph Plunkett. They marched to the General Post Office (GPO) on O'Connell Street, Dublin's main thoroughfare, occupied the building and hoisted two republican flags. Pearse stood outside and read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Copies of the Proclamation were also pasted on walls and handed out to bystanders by Volunteers and newsboys. The GPO would be the rebels' headquarters for most of the Rising. Volunteers from the GPO also occupied other buildings on the street, including buildings overlooking O'Connell Bridge. They took over a wireless telegraph station and sent out a radio broadcast in Morse code, announcing that an Irish Republic had been declared. This was the first radio broadcast in Ireland.
Elsewhere, some of the headquarters battalion under Michael Mallin occupied St Stephen's Green, where they dug trenches and barricaded the surrounding roads. The 1st battalion, under Edward 'Ned' Daly, occupied the Four Courts and surrounding buildings, while a company under Seán Heuston occupied the Mendicity Institution, across the River Liffey from the Four Courts. The 2nd battalion, under Thomas MacDonagh, occupied Jacob's biscuit factory. The 3rd battalion, under Éamon de Valera, occupied Boland's Mill and surrounding buildings. The 4th battalion, under Éamonn Ceannt, occupied the South Dublin Union and the distillery on Marrowbone Lane. From each of these 'garrisons', small units of rebels established outposts in the surrounding area.
The rebels also attempted to cut transport and communication links. As well as erecting roadblocks, they took control of various bridges and cut telephone and telegraph wires. Westland Row and Harcourt Street railway stations were occupied, though the latter only briefly. The railway line was cut at Fairview and the line was damaged by bombs at Amiens Street, Broadstone, Kingsbridge and Lansdowne Road.
Around midday, a small team of Volunteers and Fianna Éireann members swiftly captured the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park and disarmed the guards. The goal was to seize weapons and blow up the ammunition store to signal that the Rising had begun. They seized weapons and planted explosives, but the blast was not big enough to be heard across the city. The 23-year-old son of the fort's commander was fatally shot when he ran to raise the alarm.
A contingent under Seán Connolly occupied Dublin City Hall and adjacent buildings. They attempted to seize neighbouring Dublin Castle, the heart of British rule in Ireland. As they approached the gate a lone police sentry, James O'Brien, attempted to stop them and was shot dead by Connolly. According to some accounts, he was the first casualty of the Rising. The rebels overpowered the soldiers in the guardroom, but failed to press further. The British Army's chief intelligence officer, Major Ivon Price, fired on the rebels while the Under-Secretary for Ireland, Sir Matthew Nathan, helped shut the castle gates. Unbeknownst to the rebels, the Castle was lightly guarded and could have been taken with ease. The rebels instead laid siege to the Castle from City Hall. Fierce fighting erupted there after British reinforcements arrived. The rebels on the roof exchanged fire with soldiers on the street. Seán Connolly was shot dead by a sniper, becoming the first rebel casualty. By the following morning, British forces had re-captured City Hall and taken the rebels prisoner.
The rebels did not attempt to take some other key locations, notably Trinity College, in the heart of the city centre and defended by only a handful of armed unionist students. Failure to capture the telephone exchange in Crown Alley left communications in the hands of Government with GPO staff quickly repairing telephone wires that had been cut by the rebels.  The failure to occupy strategic locations was attributed to lack of manpower. In at least two incidents, at Jacob's and Stephen's Green, the Volunteers and Citizen Army shot dead civilians trying to attack them or dismantle their barricades. Elsewhere, they hit civilians with their rifle butts to drive them off.
The British military were caught totally unprepared by the rebellion and their response of the first day was generally un-coordinated. Two troops of British cavalry were sent to investigate what was happening. They took fire and casualties from rebel forces at the GPO and at the Four Courts. As one troop passed Nelson's Pillar, the rebels opened fire from the GPO, killing three cavalrymen and two horses and fatally wounding a fourth man. The cavalrymen retreated and were withdrawn to barracks. On Mount Street, a group of Volunteer Training Corps men stumbled upon the rebel position and four were killed before they reached Beggars Bush Barracks.
The only substantial combat of the first day of the Rising took place at the South Dublin Union where a piquet from the Royal Irish Regiment encountered an outpost of Éamonn Ceannt's force at the northwestern corner of the South Dublin Union. The British troops, after taking some casualties, managed to regroup and launch several assaults on the position before they forced their way inside and the small rebel force in the tin huts at the eastern end of the Union surrendered. However, the Union complex as a whole remained in rebel hands. A nurse in uniform, Margaret Keogh, was shot dead by British soldiers at the Union. She is believed to have been the first civilian killed in the Rising.
Three unarmed Dublin Metropolitan Police were shot dead on the first day of the Rising and their Commissioner pulled them off the streets. Partly as a result of the police withdrawal, a wave of looting broke out in the city centre, especially in the O'Connell Street area. A total of 425 people were arrested after the Rising for looting.
Tuesday and Wednesday
Lord Wimborne, the Lord Lieutenant, declared martial law on Tuesday evening and handed over civil power to Brigadier-General William Lowe. British forces initially put their efforts into securing the approaches to Dublin Castle and isolating the rebel headquarters, which they believed was in Liberty Hall. The British commander, Lowe, worked slowly, unsure of the size of the force he was up against, and with only 1,269 troops in the city when he arrived from the Curragh Camp in the early hours of Tuesday 25 April. City Hall was taken from the rebel unit that had attacked Dublin Castle on Tuesday morning.
In the early hours of Tuesday, 120 British soldiers, with machine-guns, occupied two buildings overlooking St Stephen's Green: the Shelbourne Hotel and United Services Club. At dawn they opened fire on the Citizen Army occupying the green. The rebels returned fire, but were forced to retreat to the Royal College of Surgeons building. They remained there for the rest of the week, exchanging fire with British forces.
Fighting erupted along the northern edge of the city centre on Tuesday afternoon. In the northeast, British troops left Amiens Street railway station in an armoured train, to secure and repair a section of damaged tracks. They were attacked by rebels who had taken up position at Annesley Bridge. After a two-hour battle, the British were forced to retreat and several soldiers were captured. At Phibsborough, in the northwest, rebels had occupied buildings and erected barricades at junctions on the North Circular Road. The British summoned 18-pounder field artillery from Athlone and shelled the rebel positions, destroying the barricades. After a fierce firefight, the rebels withdrew. They later made an unsuccessful attack on troops at Broadstone railway station.
That afternoon, Pearse, walked out into O'Connell Street with a small escort and stood in front of Nelson's Pillar. As a large crowd gathered, he read out a 'manifesto to the citizens of Dublin', calling on them to support the Rising.
The rebels had failed to take either of Dublin's two main railway stations or either of its ports, at Dublin Port and Kingstown. As a result, during the following week, the British were able to bring in thousands of reinforcements from Britain and from their garrisons at the Curragh and Belfast. By the end of the week, British strength stood at over 16,000 men. Their firepower was provided by field artillery which they positioned on the northside of the city at Phibsborough and at Trinity College, and by the patrol vessel Helga, which sailed up the Liffey, having been summoned from the port at Kingstown. On Wednesday, 26 April, the guns at Trinity College and Helga shelled Liberty Hall, and the Trinity College guns then began firing at rebel positions, first at Boland's Mill and then in O'Connell Street. Some rebel commanders, particularly James Connolly, did not believe that the British would shell the 'second city' of the British Empire.
The principal rebel positions at the GPO, the Four Courts, Jacob's Factory and Boland's Mill saw little action. The British surrounded and bombarded them rather than assault them directly. One Volunteer in the GPO recalled, "we did practically no shooting as there was no target". However, where the insurgents dominated the routes by which the British tried to funnel reinforcements into the city, there was fierce fighting.
At 5:25PM volunteers Eamon Martin, Garry Holohan, Robert Beggs, Sean Cody, Dinny O'Callaghan, Charles Shelley, Peadar Breslin and five others attempted to occupy Broadstone railway station on Church Street, the attack was unsuccessful and Martin was injured.
On Wednesday morning, hundreds of British troops encircled the Mendicity Institute, which was occupied by 26 Volunteers under Seán Heuston. British troops advanced on the building, supported by snipers and machine gun fire, but the Volunteers put up stiff resistance. Eventually, the troops got close enough to hurl grenades into the building, some of which the rebels threw back. Exhausted and almost out of ammunition, Heuston's men became the first rebel position to surrender. Heuston had been ordered to hold his position for a few hours, to delay the British, but had held on for three days.
Reinforcements were sent to Dublin from Britain, and disembarked at Kingstown on the morning of Wednesday 26 April. Heavy fighting occurred at the rebel-held positions around the Grand Canal as these troops advanced towards Dublin. More than 1,000 Sherwood Foresters were repeatedly caught in a cross-fire trying to cross the canal at Mount Street Bridge. Seventeen Volunteers were able to severely disrupt the British advance, killing or wounding 240 men. Despite there being alternative routes across the canal nearby, General Lowe ordered repeated frontal assaults on the Mount Street position. The British eventually took the position, which had not been reinforced by the nearby rebel garrison at Boland's Mills, on Thursday, but the fighting there inflicted up to two thirds of their casualties for the entire week for a cost of just four dead Volunteers. It had taken nearly nine hours for the British to advance 300 yd (270 m).
On Wednesday Linenhall barracks on Constitution Hill was burnt down under the orders of Commandant Edward Daly to prevent its reoccupation by the British army.
Thursday to Saturday
The rebel position at the South Dublin Union (site of the present day St. James's Hospital) and Marrowbone Lane, further west along the canal, also inflicted heavy losses on British troops. The South Dublin Union was a large complex of buildings and there was vicious fighting around and inside the buildings. Cathal Brugha, a rebel officer, distinguished himself in this action and was badly wounded. By the end of the week, the British had taken some of the buildings in the Union, but others remained in rebel hands. British troops also took casualties in unsuccessful frontal assaults on the Marrowbone Lane Distillery.
The third major scene of fighting during the week was in the area of North King Street, north of the Four Courts. The rebels had established strong outposts in the area, occupying numerous small buildings and barricading the streets. From Thursday to Saturday, the British made repeated attempts to take the area, in what was some of the fiercest fighting of the Rising. As the troops moved in, the rebels continually opened fire from windows and behind chimneys and barricades. At one point, a platoon led by Major Sheppard made a bayonet charge on one of the barricades, but was cut down by rebel fire. The British employed machine guns and attempted to avoid direct fire by using makeshift armoured trucks, and by mouse-holing through the inside walls of terraced houses to get near the rebel positions. By the time of the rebel headquarters' surrender on Saturday, the South Staffordshire Regiment under Colonel Taylor had advanced only 150 yd (140 m) down the street at a cost of 11 dead and 28 wounded. The enraged troops broke into the houses along the street and shot or bayoneted 15 unarmed male civilians whom they accused of being rebel fighters.
Elsewhere, at Portobello Barracks, an officer named Bowen Colthurst summarily executed six civilians, including the pacifist nationalist activist, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington. These instances of British troops killing Irish civilians would later be highly controversial in Ireland.
The headquarters garrison at the GPO, after days of shelling, was forced to abandon their headquarters when fire caused by the shells spread to the GPO. Connolly had been incapacitated by a bullet wound to the ankle and had passed command on to Pearse. The O'Rahilly was killed in a sortie from the GPO. They tunnelled through the walls of the neighbouring buildings in order to evacuate the Post Office without coming under fire and took up a new position in 16 Moore Street. The young Seán McLoughlin was given military command and planned a break out, but Pearse realised this plan would lead to further loss of civilian life.
On Saturday 29 April, from this new headquarters, Pearse issued an order for all companies to surrender. Pearse surrendered unconditionally to Brigadier-General Lowe. The surrender document read:
In order to prevent the further slaughter of Dublin citizens, and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers now surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered, the members of the Provisional Government present at headquarters have agreed to an unconditional surrender, and the commandants of the various districts in the City and County will order their commands to lay down arms.
The other posts surrendered only after Pearse's surrender order, carried by nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell, reached them. Sporadic fighting therefore continued until Sunday, when word of the surrender was got to the other rebel garrisons. Command of British forces had passed from Lowe to General John Maxwell, who arrived in Dublin just in time to take the surrender. Maxwell was made temporary military governor of Ireland.
Irish Volunteer units mobilised on Easter Sunday in several places outside of Dublin, but because of Eoin MacNeill's countermanding order, most of them returned home without fighting. In addition, because of the interception of the German arms aboard the Aud, the provincial Volunteer units were very poorly armed.
In the south, around 1,200 Volunteers mustered in Cork, under Tomás Mac Curtain, on the Sunday, but they dispersed on Wednesday after receiving nine contradictory orders by dispatch from the Volunteer leadership in Dublin. At their Sheares Street headquarters, some of the Volunteers engaged in a standoff with British forces. Much to the anger of many Volunteers, MacCurtain, under pressure from Catholic clergy, agreed to surrender his men's arms to the British. The only violence in Cork occurred when the RIC attempted to raid the home of the Kent family. The Kent brothers, who were Volunteers, engaged in a three-hour firefight with the RIC. An RIC officer and one of the brothers were killed, while another brother was later executed.
In the north, Volunteer companies were mobilised in County Tyrone at Coalisland (including 132 men from Belfast led by IRB President Dennis McCullough) and Carrickmore, under the leadership of Patrick McCartan. They also mobilised at Creeslough, County Donegal under Daniel Kelly and James McNulty. However, in part because of the confusion caused by the countermanding order, the Volunteers in these locations dispersed without fighting.
In Fingal (or north County Dublin), about 60 Volunteers mobilised near Swords. They belonged to the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade (also known as the Fingal Battalion), and were led by Thomas Ashe and his second in command, Richard Mulcahy. Unlike the rebels elsewhere, the Fingal Battalion successfully employed guerrilla tactics. They set up camp and Ashe split the battalion into four sections: three would undertake operations while the fourth was kept in reserve, guarding camp and foraging for food. The Volunteers moved against the RIC barracks in Swords, Donabate and Garristown, forcing the RIC to surrender and seizing all the weapons. They also damaged railway lines and cut telegraph wires. The railway line at Blanchardstown was bombed to prevent a troop train reaching Dublin. This derailed a cattle train, which had been sent ahead of the troop train.
The only large-scale engagement of the Rising, outside Dublin city, was at Ashbourne. On Friday, about 35 Fingal Volunteers surrounded the Ashbourne RIC barracks and called on it to surrender, but the RIC responded with a volley of gunfire. A firefight followed, and the RIC surrendered after the Volunteers attacked the building with a homemade grenade. Before the surrender could be taken, up to sixty RIC men arrived in a convoy, sparking a five-hour gun battle, in which eight RIC men were killed and 18 wounded. Two Volunteers were also killed and five wounded, and a civilian was fatally shot. The RIC surrendered and were disarmed. Ashe let them go after warning them not to fight against the Irish Republic again. Ashe's men camped at Kilsalaghan near Dublin until they received orders to surrender on Saturday. The Fingal Battalion's tactics during the Rising foreshadowed those of the IRA during the War of Independence that followed.
Volunteer contingents also mobilised nearby in counties Meath and Louth, but proved unable to link up with the North Dublin unit until after it had surrendered. In County Louth, Volunteers shot dead an RIC man near the village of Castlebellingham on 24 April, in an incident in which 15 RIC men were also taken prisoner.
In County Wexford, 100–200 Volunteers—led by Robert Brennan, Séamus Doyle and Seán Etchingham—took over the town of Enniscorthy on Thursday 27 April until Sunday. Volunteer officer Paul Galligan had cycled 200 km from rebel headquarters in Dublin with orders to mobilise. They blocked all roads into the town and made a brief attack on the RIC barracks, but chose to blockade it rather than attempt to capture it. They flew the tricolour over the Athenaeum building, which they had made their headquarters, and paraded uniformed in the streets. They also occupied Vinegar Hill, where the United Irishmen had made a last stand in the 1798 rebellion. The public largely supported the rebels and many local men offered to join them.
By Saturday, up to 1,000 rebels had been mobilised, and a detachment was sent to occupy the nearby village of Ferns. In Wexford, the British assembled a column of 1,000 soldiers (including the Connaught Rangers), two field guns and a 4.7 inch naval gun on a makeshift armoured train. On Sunday, the British sent messengers to Enniscorthy, informing the rebels of Pearse's surrender order. However, the Volunteer officers were skeptical. Two of them were escorted by the British to Arbour Hill Prison, where Pearse confirmed the surrender order.
In County Galway, 600–700 Volunteers mobilised on Tuesday under Liam Mellows. His plan was to "bottle up the British garrison and divert the British from concentrating on Dublin". However, his men were poorly armed, with only 25 rifles, 60 revolvers, 300 shotguns and some homemade grenades – many of them only had pikes. Most of the action took place in a rural area to the east of Galway city. They made unsuccessful attacks on the RIC barracks at Clarinbridge and Oranmore, captured several officers, and bombed a bridge and railway line, before taking up position near Athenry. There was also a skirmish between rebels and an RIC mobile patrol at Carnmore
Éirí Amach na Cásca
Proclamation of the Republic, Easter 1916
| Irish rebel forces:|
Irish Citizen Army
| British forces:|
Royal Irish Constabulary
|Commanders and leaders|
|1,250 in Dublin,|
~2,000–3,000 volunteers elsewhere, but they took little part in the fighting.
|16,000 British troops and 1,000 armed RIC in Dublin by the end of the week.|
|Casualties and losses|
|260 civilians killed|
2,217 civilians wounded
Total killed: 485