Tag Archives: 1916 Rising

The gun in Irish politics and revolution, 1914-1923

John Dorney at The Irish Story blog has produced a three-part series about “the decade of the gun.” It explores the hardware of Ireland’s revolutionary period, now the subject of centennial reflections. Up to 5,000 people were killed in armed conflict during this stretch, which Dorney describes as “a number of discrete episodes with different combatants arrayed against each other.” He continues:

Partisan debate raged at the time about whether the ‘Trouble’ amounted to political violence or warfare. The point has been made that it was not so much the quantity or quality of weapons that caused deaths and injuries as the willingness to use them.

Here’s the series:

Part 1, 1914-1916, looks at the run up to the Rising.

Part 2, 1919-1921, explores the War of Independence.

Part 3, 1922-1923, concludes with Ireland’s Civil War.

Anti-treaty IRA on Grafton Street in Dublin, 1922.

Anti-treaty IRA on Grafton Street in Dublin, 1922.

NYT story calls water protests “a new Irish rebellion”

The New York Times has added to its coverage of the populist backlash against consumer water charges in Ireland. Under the headline “A New Irish Rebellion, This Time Against Water Fees,” the Times reports:

… some experts say that the protests are far from over, reflecting growing fatigue with austerity policies that have taken a toll on most families, even as the economy has recovered to the point that it is the fastest-growing in Europe. Many expect a widespread refusal to pay when the bills are sent out in April.

Some form of the word “protest” is used 11 times in the 1,200-word story. Despite the provocative headline, however, there is no mention of next year’s centennial of the 1916 Rising, or other Irish rebellions.

I was reminded of a Times editorial from April 1916, shortly after the Rising, which I found while researching my book about my immigrant grandfather. Remember, this is the generally anti-Irish, anti-Catholic, anti-Tammany Hall Times of the late 19th and early 20th century. While Tammany is gone, I’d argue the Times’ anti-Catholic bias remains.

Regardless, here’s what the newspaper said 99 years ago:

Ireland in a state of rebellion is Irish. Her history emerges from myths and legends of which the very theme was strife … a logical projection of her special feud with life. … Rebellion has been the chronic, almost to say the natural, condition of Ireland, being now and then only a little more acute than usual.

Letters to Ireland: Republic plans to modernize postal service

Every year I mail a Christmas card to a relation in Ireland who lives in the rural house where my grandfather was born in 1894. All that’s required for the address is the surname, the townland name, Lahardane, and County Kerry. No street name or number are required, because none exist.

That’s about to change.

The Republic is preparing to introduce postal codes in spring 2015. Each of the country’s more than 2.1 million residential and business addresses will be assigned a seven-digit mix of numbers and letter.

Some people worry the upgrade will erase a wee bit of Ireland’s small country charms. Others are happy to see the modernization. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Ireland has tried, and failed, to deliver a postal-code system before. But costs—and, until recently, resistance by postal workers—have stymied efforts. The current system comes with a price tag of $32 million and, this time, the stamp of approval of the country’s postal service. …

An Post, Ireland’s postal service, argued for years that postal codes were too expensive and complicated. There were also fears that postal codes would make it easier for private courier services to swoop in, triggering layoffs of postal workers. Supporters quietly argued that codes actually might boost post-office traffic by making it easier to send junk mail.

There are other concerns, as The Irish Times reports:

Critics say the opportunity has been missed to use Ireland’s clean-slate status to produce a technologically innovative postcode system that would be at the cutting edge globally; similar to the competitive leap that was provided when the State switched to a digital phone network in the 1980s, well ahead of most of the world. …

Because each postcode will reveal the exact address of a home or business, privacy advocates are concerned that online use of postcodes could link many types of internet activity, including potentially sensitive online searches, to a specific household or business.

Irish postal workers model new uniforms in front of the GPO in 2011.

Irish postal workers model new uniforms in front of the GPO in 2011.

The headquarters of Ireland’s mail service, the General Post Office in Dublin, was at the center of the 1916 Rising. It will be the focus of attention through April 2016 as the nation prepares to celebrate the centennial of the event. A museum on the site details “the little known story of the staff who were actually in the GPO on Easter Monday.”

I’ll look forward to sending a last Christmas card to Lahardane that doesn’t require a postal code. I know it will arrive safely.

Remarks of former taoiseach stir debate over Home Rule, revolution


Some thoughtful pieces have been added to the debate: Ronan Fanning writes on why it is unwise to commemorate the September 1914 Home Rule Bill. Stephen Collins says that Bruton’s proposal deserves serious consideration. Both are good reads.


Former taoiseach John Bruton has stirred up debate in Ireland by insisting that it’s better to note the centenary of Home Rule, this September, than the 1916 Easter Rising and subsequent War of Independence.

Such armed revolutions would have been “completely unnecessary,” Burton says, if Ireland had stuck to the parliamentary path. In public comments and a post on his website, Bruton argues:

Ireland could have achieved better results, for all the people of the island, if it had continued to follow the successful non violent parliamentary Home Rule path, and had not embarked on the path of physical violence, initiated by the IRB and the Irish Citizen Army in Easter Week of 1916.


Others disagree, among them (no surprise here) Gerry Adams. He was quoted in The Irish Times as saying:

For the record, the 1916 Rising was a seminal event in Irish history, a decisive blow in the struggle for Irish freedom. It is incredible that a former taoiseach – a position that would never have existed but for the Easter Rising and the [Black and] Tan War – would denigrate the sacrifice of the participants and their families in this way.”

And here’s a more detailed op-ed by Éamon Ó Cuív, a grandson of Irish-American republican leader Éamon de Valera.

Royals to visit Ireland for 1916 Rising centennial

Of all the memorable words and images to emerge from the four-day state visit to England by Irish officials , the most memorable might be yet to come. Queen Elizabeth confirmed that a member of the royal family will plan to attend the centennial commemoration of the Easter Rising in April 1916. Such an invitation has been discussed publicly for some time.

Stephen Collins wrote in The Irish Times:

Many in the mainstream Irish political parties feared the 1916 Rising commemorations might be hijacked by Sinn Féin, but republicans may now begin to fear the British royal family could steal the show. The presence of a member of a royal family should help ensure nobody steals the show and that the commemorations marking the first World War and the events that led to Irish independence will be truly inclusive of all strands of political opinion on the island of Ireland.

The decision is drawing criticism from historians such as Diarmaid Ferriter, a member of the advisory group working on the centenary.

The GPO after the Rising.

The GPO after the Rising.

“The State can make this invitation, but what are we there for if we are not going to be asked for advice on big decisions like that?” Ferriter told the Times. “The State doesn’t own the legacy of 1916. Nobody does except the people. We are trying to organise public consultations to get people’s views.”