Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

Easter Rising 1916 – six days that changed course of history

This page will lead you to dozens of articles about the Easter Rising 1916, including everything from bitesize summaries to more detailed background analysis of the key events, groups and characters involved.

The Rising was the most important event in 20th century Irish history. It changed Ireland forever and paved the way for the Irish Free State and eventual independence for the 26 counties that now make up the Irish Republic.
1916 Easter Rising. Image copyright Ireland Calling
The aim of these articles is to foster an interest in Irish history and encourage readers to discover more. There are several online courses providing further insights and analysis.

Our full list of articles on the Easter Rising

Story of the 1916 Easter Rising – the full story of the Rising, why it happened, the key groups, the main characters, the fighting, the surrender, the executions and the change in public opinion that turned a failed rebellion into a belated triumph.

Easter Rising Essential Facts – the key points of the Easter Rising in quick note form.

Easter Rising Key characters, places, organisations – a glossary in alphabetical order of the main characters, organisations, places and terms that you will come across when reading about the Rising.

Political Background – the key events leading up to the Rising all the way from the Anglo-Norman invasions of Ireland, to the numerous rebellions, Act of Union with Britain, the mismanagement of the Great Hunger (Famine), the Fenians, Home Rule movement and the First World War.

The main groups involved in the Rising

Sinn Fein were initially thought to be responsible for the Easter Rising but in fact they had nothing to with it. The main groups involved were:

Irish Republican Brotherhood – a secret underground movement formed in 1858 to fight for Irish independence. Its Military Council planned the Easter Rising.
Irish Volunteer Force – a paramilitary group formed in 1913 to fight if necessary for Home Rule. It provided most of the soldiers in the Rising.
Irish Citizen Army – initially formed to protect trade unionists against police aggression during the Dublin Lockout. Their leaders included James Connolly and Countess Markievicz.
Cumann na mBan – the League of Women played a big part in the Rising providing ancillary services.

The rebel plans, the action and the British response

The Rebel Plan – the Military Council planning the Rising believed the British were vulnerable to attack in 1916 because they were preoccupied with World War I. Britain’s difficulty was seen as Ireland’s opportunity. However, conflicting orders meant the Rising failed to take off as planned,
The Rebels Attack – the rebels fanned out from Liberty Hall and seized key, strategic sites across Dublin, but they were few in number and poorly armed.
The Proclamation of the Irish Republic – the famous proclamation read by Patrick Pearse outside the GPO. It was a statement of what the Rising was about…Irish independence, equality for all, peace between the Catholic majority and the Protestant minority. Read the full text of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

Key sites – the GPO is the best known site from the Easter Rising but there were several more that saw fierce fighting including the South Dublin Union and Mount Street.
The British Reaction – the British were caught completely off-guard by the rebel action but they responded quickly, bringing in troops and heavy artillery to quash the Rising.

The executions that turned failure into triumph

Leaders Executed – General Maxwell was sent in to end the rebellion and deal with the leaders. He was given the authority to hold military courts and impose the death penalty. More than 90 rebels were sentenced to death but most had their sentences commuted, including Éamon de Valera, who went on to become President of Ireland.
Public Reaction – the Irish public were hostile to the Rising at first. They were furious that more than 500 civilians were killed and so many of the city’s buildings were destroyed. Many had relatives fighting in the British Army against Germany and felt betrayed. However, public opinion changed dramatically as the leaders began to be executed and national sympathy moved towards the rebels and Irish nationalism.

The 16 leaders who were excuted

Biographies of the executed leaders – the 16 men who were executed for their parts in the Rising have become inspirational figures in Irish history. Read each of their stories.

Easter Rising Centenary Celebrations

Easter Rising centenary events announced – government programme of events.
Reasons to celebrate the Rising – the views of historian Prof Ronan Fanning.
Friendship with Britain ‘must not stop Easter Rising celebration’ – views of historian Dr Brian P Murphy.
Irish President visits Easter Rising prison camp – president invited to Frongoch in Wales.
Easter Rising celebrations to be ‘Irish only affair’ – government decides against inviting foreign heads of state.
Every school to receive flag to mark centenary – children to learn about the Rising.
People with Irish roots urged to return for Rising centenary – a celebration for the Irish diaspora.

More stories from the Rising

Full list of the Easter Rising rebels – the Military Pensions Archive definitive list of names showing who who took part.
Joseph Plunkett marriage to Grace Gifford – the couple married in prison hours before Plunkett was executed
Francis Skeffington – murdered during the Easter Rising – equal rights campaigner who was shot dead
Easter Lily – sign of peace and hope for the future introduced in 1925 by Cumann na mBan.
Quiet Man actor took part in 1916 Easter Rising – Rev Playfair had a rebel past
‘Lost’ photo of Easter 1916 leaders put on display – group photo a several revolutionary leaders
‘Forgotten’ Easter Rising rebel receives State funeralThomas Kent buried with full honours.
Rare photos of the aftermath of the Easter Rising – made available in a Trinity College blog.
British soldier’s diary during the Easter Rising – fascinating insights from the other side.
If de Valera had become a maths professor? – did de Valera’s maths training influence his political thinking?
Easter Widows – the women left behind – controversial book on marriages of executed rebels.
Human chain protest to save Easter Rising site – campaigners try to preserve Moore Street.
Campaign to save historic Easter Rising site – appeal to the Taoiseach.
Liam Neeson takes part in Easter Rising documentary – Hollywood star voices three part film.

Alternative views of the Easter Rising

John Bruton criticises leaders – Former Taoiseach gives his modern-day views.
Irish Senator describes Easter Rising rebels as ‘traitors’ – the views of Senator David Norris.
Comedy treats Easter Rising as a farce – controversial comedy starring Ardal O’Hanlon
Rubberbandits produce documentary on the Rising – an alternative view from a comedy duo

Relatives of the Easter Rising rebels

Ireland Calling has spoken to some of the descendants and relatives of the rebels who took part in the Easter Rising. Here they talking about what it’s like to be related to such iconic figures and give their views on the cause they fought for and in many cases, died for.
Interviews with relatives of the Easter Rising rebels – fascinating insights from the descendants of the rebels.

Poems, songs and plays about the Easter Rising

The Easter Rising inspired numerous poems, songs and plays – many written by some of Ireland’s great writers, most notably W B Yeats and Francis Ledwidge.

These are some of them

Easter 1916W B Yeats knew many of the people who led the rebellion. He gives his thoughts on them all with the repeating refrain, a terrible beauty is born. Read Easter 1916

The Foggy Dew – was written after the Rising by Canon Charles O’Neill. It reflects on what might have been if the 200,000 soldiers fighting for the British against Germany had taken part in the Easter Rising instead. Discover more about the Foggy Dew

See also our notes and analysis of Easter 1916

The Marching Song of the Volunteers – written by one of the leaders of Rising, Thomas MacDonagh who was also an acclaimed poet. Lyrics for Marching Song of the Irish Volunteers

Lament for Thomas MacDonagh – a lament by poet Francis Ledwidge for his friend Thomas MacDonagh, one of the executed leaders of the Easter Rising. Read Lament for Thomas MacDonagh

Óró Sé do Bheatha ‘Bhaile – Irish rallying call rewritten by Patrick Pearse. Discover more about Óró Sé do Bheatha ‘Bhaile