Last Friday marked a historic day in Ireland and in Irish history. On April 24, 1916 Patrick Henry Pearse of the Irish Volunteers read the 1916 Irish Proclamation in front of the GPO, the General Post Office. This event would become to be known as the Easter Rising of 1916. Last Friday was the 99th anniversary of this tragic event. It was a stepping stone for Irish independence from Great Britain.
Patrick H. Pearse and six other leaders of the Irish Volunteers led their compatriots along with the Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan – the country’s men and women – into a bloody fight in the streets of Dublin. Not just the men and woman fighting, but all of the civilians living in Dublin and all of Ireland would be affected by this event. The battle lasted a whole week and ended on the 29th of April. In the following days, Patrick H. Pearse, May 4; James Connolly, May 4; Thomas J. Clarke, May 3; Sean MacDermott, May 12; Joseph Plunkett, May 4; Eamonn Ceannt, May 8; and Thomas MacDonagh, May 3; along with nine other rebels were all executed by the British, without trial, at Kilmainham Prison. At the end of a single week of fighting 254 civilians had been killed, 64 Irish Volunteers had been killed, and 2,217 Irish citizens were left wounded.
- B Yeats writes of the brutality of the fighting in his poem Easter 1916. He declares, “A terrible beauty is born.” That’s because the Easter Rising was not the end of fighting between England and Ireland. It was simply the beginning of the next round. This event was a tragedy in Irish history, but another step towards Irish freedom.
Students and faculty members of Irish descent should not forget their Irish heritage and should be proud to be Irish. What the English did to Ireland should never be forgotten. What they are still doing to Ireland should never be ignored. No matter what country we each come from, we all have the the right to be free; to teach what we want and pray what we believe. The fight for Irish freedom continues. There should be no bars on freedom.