Prelude to the Easter Rising of 1916

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

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Patrick Pearse - the 1,000th post

Editorial Note: This is the 1,000th post. This started out as a forum for me to put in one place a collection of facts about Irish History, of which I had very little knowledge. As I am 99.9% Irish - there is a Frenchman and a Welsh woman in there somewhere; all the rest are Irish - I felt I needed to know more about my ancestry. As a family historian and a history buff, it was a natural progression for me to want know more about my heritage.
When I read the book by Peter DeRosa "Rebels, the Irish Rising of 1916", it inspired me to want to start this blog. It has been a journey for me. When I first started this blog, I did not conceive that people from all over this planet would be reading this. I have had over 80,000 pageviews since my undertaking this endeavour. This was/is unimaginable.
I have dedicated this post to the man for whom I have the most admiration, other than Jesus Christ. He was the one that was instrumental in starting this insane proposal of rebelling against the British Rule. Along with James Connolly, Thomas MacDonagh, Thomas Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, Seán MacDermott, and Éamonn Ceannt , he signed the 1916 Easter Proclamation and declared all Ireland to be free.
Padraig Pearse

Pearse Surrenders

Pearse at the GPO

Pearse's Surrender
Birthplace of Patrick and William Pearse
Patrick Henry Pearse (also known as Pádraic or Pádraig Pearse); Irish: Pádraig Anraí Mac Piarais; An Piarsach; 10 November 1879 – 3 May 1916) was an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, nationalist and political activist who was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916. Following his execution along with fifteen other leaders, Pearse came to be seen by many as the embodiment of the rebellion.
Pearse and his brother Willie were born at 27 Great Brunswick Street, the street that is named after them today. It was here that their father, James Pearse, established a stonemasonry business in the 1850s, a business which flourished and provided the Pearses with a comfortable middle-class upbringing. Pearse's father was a mason and monumental sculptor, and originally a Unitarian from Birmingham in England.

The home life of Pearse was one where he was surrounded by books. His father had had very little formal education, but was self-educated; he had two children Emily and James, from his first marriage (two other children died in infancy). His second wife, Margaret Brady, was from Dublin, and her father's family from County Meath were native Irish speakers. The Irish-speaking influence of Pearse's great-aunt Margaret, together with his schooling at the CBS Westland Row, instilled in him an early love for the Irish language.

Pearse soon became involved in the Gaelic revival. In 1896, at the age of 16, he joined the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge), and in 1903, at the age of 23, he became editor of its newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis ("The Sword of Light").

Pearse's earlier heroes were the ancient Gaelic folk heroes such as Cúchulainn, though in his 30s he began to take a strong interest in the leaders of past republican movements, such as the United Irishmen Theobald Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet. Both had been Protestant, but it was from such men as these that the fervently Catholic Pearse drew inspiration, for the rebellion of 1916.

In 1900, Pearse was awarded a BA in Modern Languages (Irish, English and French) by the Royal University of Ireland, for which he had studied for two years privately and for one at University College Dublin. In 1900, he was also awarded the degree of Barrister-at-Law from the King's Inns, and was called to the bar in 1901.
As a cultural nationalist educated by the Irish Christian Brothers, like his younger brother Willie, Pearse believed that language was intrinsic to the identity of a nation. The Irish school system, he believed, raised Ireland's youth to be good Englishmen or obedient Irishmen, and an alternative was needed. Thus for him and other language revivalists, saving the Irish language from extinction was a cultural priority of the utmost importance. The key to saving the language, he felt, would be a sympathetic education system. To show the way, he started his own bilingual school, St. Enda's School (Scoil Éanna) in Rathfarnham, County Dublin, in 1908. Here, the pupils were taught in both the Irish and English languages.

With the aid of Thomas MacDonagh, Pearse's younger brother Willie Pearse and other (often transient) academics, it soon proved a successful experiment. He did all he planned, and even brought students on field trips to the Gaeltacht in the west of Ireland. Pearse's restless idealism led him in search of an even more idyllic home for his school. He found it in the Hermitage, Rathfarnham, where he moved St. Enda's in 1910. Pearse was also involved in the foundation of St. Ita's school for girls, a school with similar aims to St. Enda's.

However, the new home, while splendidly located in an 18th-century house surrounded by a park and woodlands, caused financial difficulties that almost brought him to disaster. He strove continually to keep ahead of his debts while doing his best to maintain the school. In February 1914, he travelled to the USA to raise money for his ailing school where he met John Devoy and Joseph McGarrity both of whom were impressed by his fervour and supported him in raising sufficient money to secure the continued existence of the school.

In April 1912, the prospect of self-government for Ireland under a new Home Rule for Ireland Bill became reality, as John Redmond leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, who held the balance of power in the House of Commons committed the government of the United Kingdom to introduce the Bill. Pearse gave the bill a qualified welcome. He was one of four speakers, including Redmond, Joseph Devlin MP, leader of the Northern Nationalists, and Eoin MacNeill a prominent Gaelic Leaguer, who addressed a large Home Rule Rally in Dublin on a public platform at the end of March 1912. Speaking in Irish, Pearse said he thought "a good measure can be gained if we have enough courage", but he warned, "Let the English understand that if we are again betrayed there shall be red war throughout Ireland."

In November 1913, Pearse was invited to the inaugural meeting of the Irish Volunteers—formed in reaction to the creation of the Ulster Volunteers—whose aim was "to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland". In an article entitled “The Coming Revolution” (November 1913) Pearse wrote
As to what your work as an Irish Nationalist is to be, I cannot conjecture; I know what mine is to be, and would have you know yours and buckle yourselves to it. And it may be (nay, it is) that your and mine will lead us to a common meeting-place, and that on a certain day we shall stand together, with many more beside us, ready for a greater adventure than any of us has yet had, a trial and a triumph to be endured and achieved in common.
The bill just failed to pass the House of Lords, but the Lord’s diminished power under the Parliament Act 1911 meant that the bill could only be delayed and was finally placed on the statute books with Royal Assent in September 1914, but suspended for the duration of World War I, whose context set the backdrop for events to follow.

John Redmond, leader of the IPP, feared his “national authority” might be circumvented by the Volunteers and decided to control the new movement. Despite opposition from the Irish Republican Brotherhood members, the Volunteer Executive agreed to share leadership with Redmond and a joint committee was set up. Pearse was opposed to this and was to write:
The leaders in Ireland have nearly always left the people at the critical moment; they have sometimes sold them.The former Volunteer movement was abandoned by its leaders; O’Connell recoiled before the cannon at Clontarf; twice the hour of the Irish revolution struck during Young Ireland days and twice it struck in vain, for Meagher hesitated in Waterford, Duffy and McGee hesitated in Dublin. Stephens refused to give the word in ‘65; he never came in ‘66 or ‘67. I do not blame these men; you or I might have done the same. It is a terrible responsibility to be cast on a man, that of bidding the cannon speak and the grapeshot pour.
The Volunteers split, one of the issues being support for the Allied and British war effort, a majority following Redmond in the National Volunteers in the belief that this would ensure Home Rule on their return. Pearse, exhilarated by the dramatic events of the European war wrote in an article written in December 1915 on patriotism:
It is patriotism that stirs the people. Belgium defending her soil is heroic, and so is Turkey . . . . . .
It is good for the world that such things should be done. The old heart of the earth needed to be warmed with the red wine of the battlefields.
Such august homage was never before offered to God as this, the homage of millions of lives given gladly for love of country.
In December 1913, Bulmer Hobson swore Pearse into the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), an organisation dedicated to the overthrow of British rule in Ireland and its replacement with an Irish Republic. He was soon co-opted onto the IRB's Supreme Council by Tom Clarke. Pearse was then one of many people who were members of both the IRB and the Volunteers. When he became the Volunteers' Director of Military Organisation in 1914, he was the highest ranking Volunteer in the IRB membership, and instrumental in the latter's commandeering of the remaining minority of the Volunteers for the purpose of rebellion. By 1915 he was on the IRB's Supreme Council, and its secret Military Council, the core group that began planning for a rising while war raged on the European Western Front.

On 1 August 1915, Pearse gave a now-famous graveside oration at the funeral of the Fenian Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa. It closed with the words:
It has been thought right, before we turn away from this place in which we have laid the mortal remains of O’Donovan Rossa that one among us should, in the name of all, speak the praise of that valiant man, and endeavour to formulate the thought and the hope that are in us as we stand around his grave. And if there is anything that makes it fitting that I rather than another, I rather than one of the greyhaired men who were young with him and shared in his labour and in his suffering, should speak here, it is perhaps that I may be taken as speaking on behalf of a new generation that has been re-baptised in the Fenian faith and that has accepted the responsibility of carrying out the Fenian programme.
I propose to you then that, here by the grave of this unrepentant Fenian, we renew our baptismal vows; that, here by the grave of this unconquered and unconquerable man, we ask of God, each one for himself, such unshakable purpose, such high and gallant courage, such unbreakable strength of soul as belonged to O’Donovan Rossa. Deliberately here we avow ourselves, as he avowed himself in the dock, Irishmen of one allegiance only. We of the Irish volunteers and you others who are associated with us in today’s task and duty are bound together and must stand together henceforth in brotherly union for the achievement of the freedom of Ireland. And we know only one definition of freedom: it is Tone’s definition, it is Mitchel’s definition, it is Rossa’s definition. Let no man blaspheme the cause that the dead generations of Ireland served by giving it any other name or definition than their name and their definition.
We stand at Rossa’s grave not in sadness but rather in exaltation of spirit that it has been given to us to come thus into so close a communion with that brave and splendid Gael. Splendid and holy causes are served by men who are themselves splendid and holy. O’Donovan Rossa was splendid in the proud manhood of him, splendid in the heroic grace of him, splendid in the Gaelic strength and clarity and truth of him. All that splendour and pride and strength was compatible with a humility and a simplicity of devotion to Ireland, to all that was olden and beautiful and Gaelic in Ireland, the holiness and simplicity of patriotism of a Michael O’ Cleary or of an Eoghan O’Growney. The clear true eyes of this man almost alone in his day visioned Ireland as we of today would surely have her: not free merely, but Gaelic as well; not Gaelic merely, but free as well.
In a closer spiritual communion with him now than ever before or perhaps ever again, in spiritual communion with those of his day, living and dead, who suffered with him in English prisons, in communion of spirit too with our own dear comrades who suffer in English prisons today, and speaking on their behalf as well as on our own. we pledge to Ireland our love, and we pledge to English rule in Ireland our hate. This is a place of peace, sacred to the dead, where men should speak with all charity and with all restraint but I hold it a Christian thing, as O’Donovan Rossa held it, to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression; and, hating them, to strive to overthrow them. Our foes are strong and wise and wary; but, strong and wise and wary as they are, they cannot undo the miracles of God who ripens in the hearts of young men the seeds sown by the young men of a former generation. And the seed sown by the young men of ‘65 and ‘67 are coming to their miraculous ripening today.
Rulers and Defenders of Realms had need to be wary if they would guard against such processes. Life springs from death: and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but the fools, the fools, the fools! — they have left us our Fenian dead, and, while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace. 
Pearse, given his speaking and writing skills, was chosen by the leading IRB man Tom Clarke to be the spokesman for the Rising. It was Pearse who, on behalf of the IRB shortly before Easter in 1916, issued the orders to all Volunteer units throughout the country for three days of manoeuvres beginning Easter Sunday, which was the signal for a general uprising. When Eoin MacNeill, the Chief of Staff of the Volunteers, learned what was being planned without the promised arms from Germany, he countermanded the orders via newspaper, causing the IRB to issue a last minute order to go through with the plan the following day, greatly limiting the numbers who turned out for the rising.

When the Easter Rising eventually began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, it was Pearse who read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic from the steps of the General Post Office and headquarters of the revolutionaries. After six days fighting, heavy civilian casualties and great destruction of property, Pearse issued the order to surrender along with the remaining leaders.

Pearse and fourteen other leaders, including his brother Willie, were court-martialled and executed by firing squad. Sir Roger Casement, who had tried unsuccessfully to recruit an insurgent force among Irish-born prisoners of war from the Irish Brigade in Germany, was hanged in London the following August. Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh and Pearse himself were the first of the rebels to be executed, on the morning of 3 May 1916. Pearse was 36 years old at the time of his death.

Sir John Maxwell, the General Officer commanding the British forces in Ireland, sent a telegram to H.H. Asquith, then Prime Minister, advising him not to return the bodies of Pádraig and Willie Pearse to their family, saying, "Irish sentimentality will turn these graves into martyrs’ shrines to which annual processions will be made which would cause constant irritation in this country.

Maxwell also suppressed a letter from Pearse to his mother, and two poems dated 1 May 1916. He submitted copies of them also to Prime Minister Asquith, saying that some of the content was "objectionable."

Pearse wrote stories and poems in both Irish and English. His best-known English poems include "The Mother", "The Fool" and "The Wayfarer". He also penned several allegorical plays in the Irish language, including The King, The Master, and The Singer. His short stories in Irish include Eoghainín na nÉan ("Eoineen of the Birds"), Íosagán,"An Gadaí" Na Bóithre ("The Roads"), and An Bhean Chaointe ("The Keening Woman"). These are translated into English by Joseph Campbell (in the Collected Works of 1917). Most of his ideas on education are contained in his famous essay "The Murder Machine". He also authored many essays on politics and language, notably "The Coming Revolution" and "Ghosts".

Pearse is closely associated with the song, "Oró Sé do Bheatha 'Bhaile", for which he composed additional lyrics.

Largely as a result of a series of political pamphlets that Pearse wrote in the months leading up to the 1916 Rising, he soon became recognised as the voice of the 1916 Rising. In the middle decades of the 20th century, Pearse was idolised by Irish nationalists as the supreme idealist of their cause. With the outbreak of conflict in Northern Ireland in 1969, Pearse's legacy was used by the Provisional IRA.
Pearse's reputation and writings were subject to criticism by some historians who saw him as a dangerous, fanatical, psychologically unsound individual under ultra-religious influences. As Conor Cruise O'Brien, onetime Labour TD and former unionist politician, put it: "Pearse saw the Rising as a Passion Play with real blood." Others defended Pearse, suggesting that to blame him for the violence in Northern Ireland was unhistorical and a distortion of the real spirit of his writings. Though the passion of those arguments has waned in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, his complex personality still remains a subject of controversy for those who wish to debate the evolving meaning of Irish nationalism.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern described Pearse as one of his heroes and displayed a picture of Pearse over his desk in the Department of the Taoiseach.

Pearse's mother Margaret Pearse served as a TD in Dáil Éireann in the 1920s. His sister Margaret Mary Pearse also served as a TD and Senator.

Pearse's former school, St Enda's, Rathfarnham, on the south side of Dublin, is now the Pearse Museum dedicated to his memory.

Pearse Street and Pearse Square, in Dublin, were renamed in 1926 in honour of Pearse and his brother Willie, Pearse Street (then Great Brunswick Street) being their birthplace. Other Pearse Streets can be found in Athlone, Ballina, Bandon, Cahir, Cavan, Clonakilty (formerly Sovereign Street), Gorey, Kilkenny, Kinsale, Mountmellick, Mullingar, Nenagh and Sallynoggin (where there is also a Pearse Park, Avenue, Road etc.).

There are Pearse Roads in Ardara, Ballyphehane (which also has Pearse Place and Square), Bray, Cookstown (County Wicklow), Cork, Cranmore (which also has Pearse Crescent and Terrace), Dublin 16, Enniscorthy, Graiguecullen (County Carlow), Letterkenny, Limerick (which also has Pearse Avenue), Sligo, The Lough (Cork), Tralee and Turner's Cross (Cork).
There are Pearse Parks (residential streets) in Drogheda, Dundalk and Tullamore, and (parkland) on the outskirts of Arklow and in Tralee (the former demesne of Tralee Castle). There are other Pearse Avenues in Carrickmacross, Ennis, Mervue in Galway and Mallow. Carrigtwohill has a Patrick Pearse Place and there is a Pearse Bridge in Terenure. There is a Pearse Brothers Park in Rathfarnham and a Pearse Terrace in Westport.

Longford has Pearse Drive and Pearse View. Crumlin (Dublin) has a Pearse Memorial Park.

Cullenswood House, the old Pearse family house in Ranelagh, where Pádraic first founded St Enda's, today houses a primary Gaelscoil (school for education through the Irish language) called Lios na nÓg, part of a community-based effort to revive the Irish language. Crumlin (Dublin) has the Pearse College of Further Education, and there was formerly an Irish language summer school in Gaoth Dobhair called Colaiste an Phiarsaigh. In Rosmuc there is an Irish-medium vocational school, Gairmscoil na bPiarsach. The main lecture hall at the Cadet School in Ireland is named after P.H. Pearse.

A number of Gaelic Athletic Association clubs and playing fields in Ireland are named after Pádraic or both Pearses:
  • Antrim: Pearse Park, Dunloy; Patrick Pearse's GAC, Belfast
  • Armagh: Annaghmore Pearses GFC; Pearse Óg GAC and its grounds, Pearse Óg Park, Armagh
  • Cork: CLG Na Piarsaigh, Cork
  • Derry: Pádraig Pearse's GAC, Kilrea; Pearse's GFC, Waterside, Derry (defunct)
  • Donegal: Pearse's Park, Ardara
  • Dublin: Ballyboden St. Enda's GAA (called after Pearse's school); Pearse's GAC, Rathfarnham (defunct)
  • Galway: Pádraig Pearse's GAC, Ballymacward & Gurteen; Pearse Stadium, Salthill
  • Kerry: Dromid Pearses GAC; Kilflynn Pearses HC (defunct)
  • Limerick: CLG Na Piarsaigh, Limerick
  • Longford: Pearse Park, Longford
  • Louth: CPG Na Piarsaigh, Dundalk
  • Monaghan: Pearse Brothers GAC, Ballybay, and its grounds, Pearse Park
  • Roscommon: Pádraig Pearse's GAC
  • Tyrone: Pearse Óg GAC, Dregish; Fintona Pearses GAC; and Galbally Pearses GAC, and its grounds, Pearse Park; a defunct club, Leckpatrick Pearse Óg GAC
  • Wexford: Naomh Eanna GAA (called after Pearse's school); P.H. Pearse's HC, Enniscorthy (defunct)
  • Wicklow: Pearse Park, Arklow
So also are several outside Ireland:
  • Australasia: Pádraig Pearse GAC, Victoria
  • London: Brother Pearse's GAC, London
  • Scotland: Pearse Park, Glasgow; Pearse Harps HC (defunct)
  • Yorkshire: Brothers Pearse GAC, Huddersfield
  • North America: Pádraig Pearse GFC, Chicago; Pádraig Pearse GFC, Detroit
There are also soccer clubs named Pearse Celtic FC in Cork and in Ringsend, Dublin; and Liffeys Pearse FC, a south Dublin soccer club formed by the amalgamation of Liffeys Wanderers and Pearse Rangers. A Pearse Rangers schoolboy football club remains in existence in Dublin.

In 1916, English composer Arnold Bax, who had met the man, composed a tone poem entitled In Memoriam Patrick Pearse. It received its first public performance in 2008.

In Belfast, the Pearse Club on King Street was wrecked by an explosion in May 1938.

Westland Row Station in Dublin was renamed as Pearse Station in 1966 after the Pearses. The ten shilling coin minted in 1966 featured the bust of Patrick Pearse. The coin is unique among Irish coinage in that it is the sole coin to feature the bust of anyone associated with Irish history or politics.
In Ballymun the Patrick Pearse Tower was named after him. It was the first of Ballymun's tower blocks to be demolished in 2004.

In 1999, the centenary of Pearse's induction as a member of the Gorsedd at the 1899 Pan Celtic Eisteddfod in Cardiff (when he took the Bardic name Areithiwr) was marked by the unveiling of a plaque at the Consulate General of Ireland in Wales.

Postage stamps commemorating Pearse were issued by the Irish postal service in 1966, 1979 and 2008.

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