Easter Rising Of 1916 The events of Easter Monday, the 24th of April, 1916 triggered a bloody confrontation that would have important ramifications both for the Irish people and the British Empire. What would later become known as the Easter Rising was an attempt to end British rule in Ireland. At the onset of the First World War in 1914 the Irish Home Rule Bill was suspended, returning the Irish people to direct rule by the British government. This was viewed as a slap in the face by many in Ireland. It became the primary source of tension between the Royal Irish Constabulary, an armed police force appointed by the British Crown, and opposing rebel groups.
The Royal Irish Constabulary consisted of approximately 10,000 members throughout Ireland. Some 1,000 members were present in Dublin on Easter Monday. The Irish Republican Brotherhood was the principal rebel group, forming the backbone of the approximately 2,000 people who participated in the Easter Rising. Padraig Pearse and James Connolly led the rebels in the armed confrontation to seize control of several important buildings in Dublin. Among those were the General Post Office, the South Dublin Union, St. Stephen’s Green, and several train stations. Once control of Dublin was achieved the rebels used the General Post Office as their headquarters.
At nightfall on the 24th rebels leaders signed a document declaring themselves as the provisional government of the Irish Republic. British troops were called in the next day in an attempt to force the rebels to surrender. A bloody standoff continued for the next week. Much of Dublin, including the General Post Office, was burned primarily due to British artillery shelling. Finally, on Saturday the 29th Padraig Pearse and James Connelly surrendered ending the bloodshed. It is estimated that approximately 200 buildings were destroyed.
Over 500 casualties resulted and more than 400 of those were from the British side. Fifteen rebels, including Pearse and Connelly, were sentenced to death by firing squad. In addition, popular military leaders Michael Collins and Eamon DeValera were sentenced to prison, solidifying strong opposition to British control by a majority of the Irish people. While the Easter Rising was a short-term disaster for the Irish rebels it laid the groundwork for a movement that would lead to the formation of the Irish Free State in 1921. This was also the first of several steps that would lead cause the demise of the once mighty British Empire. European History.