Easter Monday, April 24, 1916
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On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, a group of Irish nationalists proclaimed the establishment of the Irish Republic and, along with some 1,600 followers, staged a rebellion against the British government in Ireland. They didn’t have much of a chance of pulling it off as the British forces far outnumbered them and greatly contributed to the massive shelling and the fires that left extensive parts of Dublin city in ruins.
The GPO (General Post Office in Dublin) became the headquarters for the Easter Rising. At that time, Ireland and Britain were a United Kingdom but many Irish people believed Ireland should be in control of its own affairs and some were prepared to fight for Irish independence.
On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, Irish rebels led by Padraig Pearse, occupied the General Post Office in Dublin and used it as their base.
Pearse read the Proclamation of Independence to onlookers in the street and, from the front of the GPO, declared Ireland to be a Republic.
Heavy fighting ensued and lasted for almost a week, during which much of the city centre of Dublin was destroyed.
My grandmother, Agnes Christiana Cambridge Poore (April 24, 1896-1989) would have marked her 20th birthday on that fateful day, April 24, 1916, and she had been born in Dublin. At the time of the 1916 uprising she and her family were living in Belfast. Her home address at the time of her birth was Lawson Terrace, 22 Sandycove Road. Dublin.
Interestingly, this was 4 houses down from where one of the leaders of the 1916 Revolution, Sir Roger Casement, was also born at 29 Sandycove Road. He was a renowned human rights campaigner and was executed in England in 1916 for his involvement in Dublin Easter Rising.
Next door at 24 Sandycove Road, a Regency-style house built in the early 1780s is the former residence of Mr. William Monk Gibbon, the famous Irish poet and writer and was where George Bernard Shaw attended school in 1867. The house at 22 Sandycove Road looks very similar and appears to be from the same era although I haven’t yet done the research on this.
In May of 1916, fifteen leaders of the uprising were executed by firing squad. More than 3,000 people suspected of supporting the uprising, directly or indirectly, were arrested, and some 1,800 were sent to England and imprisoned there without trial.
The rushed executions, mass arrests and martial law (which remained in effect through the fall of 1916), fueled public resentment toward the British and were among the factors that helped build support for the rebels and the movement for Irish independence.
Although many of the people of Ulster had signed the Ulster Covenent and wished to stay with England and not to be ruled from Dublin, the aftermath of the Easter Rising with the execution of so many of the rebel leaders was devastating to all of Ireland.
In the 1918 general election to the parliament of the United Kingdom, the Sinn Fein political party (whose goal was to establish a republic) won a majority of the Irish seats. The Sinn Fein members then refused to sit in the UK Parliament, and in January 1919 met in Dublin to convene an Irish Parliament (known as the Dail Eireann) and again declare Ireland’s independence.
The Irish War of Independence, fought from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army (IRA, the army of the Irish Republic) and the British security forces in Ireland, resulted in the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the establishment in 1922 of the Irish Free State. Ireland’s six northern counties opted out of the Free State and remained with the United Kingdom.
Immigration to Canada
During the time of the Irish War of Independence, my grandmother and her family, left their home in Belfast where violence was increasing. The family sailed from Dublin, Ireland to Montreal, Canada September 20, 1920 on the SS FanHead. They eventually arrived in Victoria, British Columbia to start a new life there.
It wasn’t until Easter Monday, April 18, 1949, that the fully independent Republic of Ireland was formally proclaimed, ending the Free State’s status as a British dominion.The Troubles
Thoughts of Returning to Ireland
Around 1971, when I myself was 20 years old, my grandmother expressed a longing to return for a visit to Belfast after a long absence of 50 years. She thought that maybe her and I could travel there together.
I didn’t think she was serious about the matter, and perhaps she wasn’t, as this was the time of the “troubles” in Ireland and had become again a dangerous time with more bombings in Belfast and directly in her old neigbourhood of Cavehill Road, the road on which she had resided so long ago.
Bloody Sunday was an incident on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland. British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a peaceful protest march. The protesters, Northern Catholics, were marching in protest of the British policy of internment of suspected Irish nationalists. Fourteen people died. Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers and some were shot while trying to help the wounded.
The Peace Walls
This time of “the troubles” brought about the building of peace walls, a series of barriers in Northern Ireland that separate Catholic and Protestant neighbourhoods.
Provinces of Ireland
Ulster is the name of one of the four traditional provinces of Ireland, the others being Leinster, Munster and Connacht. Ulster consisted of nine counties. When Ireland was partitioned in 1922, the counties of Ulster voted on whether or not to join the Irish Free State or to remain in the United Kingdom. The counties of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan voted for the Irish Free State. Fermanagh, Armagh, Tyrone, Londonderry, Antrim and Down voted for the UK. These six counties now form Northern Ireland.