Prelude to the Easter Rising of 1916

Prelude to the Easter Rising of 1916
The Signatories of the Proclamation

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Clan na Gael

Roger Casement & John Devoy

Already on 24th August 1914 its leader, John Devoy, had met the German ambassador in New York, stressed to him the opportunities for an Irish rising and requested arms and military personnel for this purpose.

Roger Casement was the central figure in developing the rebels` relations with Germany. He had been born in Sandycove, near Dublin, in 1864, the son of a British army officer, and for 20 years had served in the British consular service. He had then gained an international reputation for exposing European colonial exploitation of native peoples in Africa and South America. He had meanwhile become increasingly absorbed in militant Irish nationalist politics and attracted by the potential of an Irish-German alliance as a means of securing full Irish independence. He was in the US when the war began and at once submitted a plan to German officials there, outlining how Britain’s power could be broken by exploiting unrest in its vulnerable possessions, especially Ireland. The Berlin government suggested that he travel to Germany for negotiations.

The objective of Clan na Gael was to secure an independent Ireland and to assist the Irish Republican Brotherhood in achieving this aim. To this end, the Clan was prepared to enter into alliances with any nation allied against the British; with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Clan found its greatest ally in Imperial Germany. Members of the Clan led by Devoy met with the German Ambassador in the US Count Von Bernstorff and his aide Von Papen in 1914. This was followed by an emissary sent to Berlin to discuss how the German war effort and Irish Nationalism could operate. Devoy, along with Roger Casement and Joseph McGarrity, was able to bring together both the American and German support in the years prior to the Easter Rising. However the German munitions never reached Ireland as the ship The Aud carrying them was scuttled in Cork Harbour after being intercepted by the Royal Navy.

Clan na Gael became the largest single financier of both the Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence. Imperial Germany aided Clan na Gael by selling those guns and munitions to be used in the uprising of 1916. Germany had hoped that by distracting Britain with an Irish uprising they would be able to garner the upper hand in the war and affect a German victory on the Western Front. However, they failed to follow through with more support. Clan na Gael was also involved via McGarrity and Casement in the abortive attempt to raise an "Irish Brigade" to fight against the British.

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