St Patrick’s Day in the LRC
St Patrick’s Day this year was a particularly special one given that 2016 marks 100 years since the historic 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin when a small group of rebels refused to let the Great War curb their determination for Irish Free Rule. The rebels were ordinary men and women, with one of the leaders– Patrick Pearse– working as a school teacher. Together, they penned a proclamation declaring Irish freedom from Britain. On Easter Monday, 1916 they staged a rebellion against the British Government by arming themselves with weapons and storming prominent buildings in Dublin, most notably the General Post Office in the heart of the capital. Patrick Pearse read their proclamation on the steps of the building, determined to fight for Ireland’s freedom.
Despite the rebels’ hopes, the public did not rise to support them. The British Government soon declared martial law in Ireland and, within a week, the insurrection had been suppressed, with the rebels surrendering after more than 2000 people were dead or injured, including women and children. The leaders of the rebellion were court-martialed by the British and executed by firing squad within days of their surrender. James Connolly, one of the rebels leaders, was so badly injured in the uprising that he couldn’t even stand in front of the firing squad and was instead strapped to a chair to be killed. Initially there was little public support from the Irish people for the Easter Rising with many citizens viewing the rebels as reckless fools who caused unnecessary bloodshed and destruction amidst the turmoil of WWI; however, the swift executions of the men saw public opinion quickly shift and the executed men were hailed as martyrs.
W.B Yeats penned a poem about the rising called ‘Easter 1916’ where he perceived the rebellion– and those who lead it– as an incredibly significant event in Irish history, saying:
I write it out in a verse–
Macdonagh and Macbride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed
A terrible beauty is born.
Yeats was right. The terror of the rising did lead to the ‘beauty’ of Irish independence from great Britain when in 1921, a treaty was signed that in 1922 established the Irish Free State, which eventually became the modern day Republic of Ireland.
Our Year 12 Advanced English students will undertake a study of W.B Yeats next term and should benefit greatly from an historical understanding of the era that Yeats was writing in. We also celebrated other Irish writers this week ranging from Bram Stoker and James Joyce to Colin Tobin and Maeve Binchy. We asked our own students to try their hand at writing a limerick and had fun with a photobooth.
We would also like to extend our thanks to Kelly Cahalane for her tremendous work in researching the Easter Rising for our historical display.
Ms Liz Green
Knowledge and Learning Strategist