Official documents on Easter Rising leaders released online
Thousands of records that relate to some of the most important figures in Irish history have been made available online.
The records include court-martial papers of the Easter Rising leaders and rebels as well as intelligence data on War of Independence leaders Éamon on de Valera and Michael Collins.
Around 2,600 records have been digitised by ancestry.com, along with 60,000 images and are available online as of 22nd March.
The documents had been stored in the UK National Archives in Kew for the last 100 years. Some of them, such as the court-martial documents of the Easter Rising leaders had been released in 2003, but were only available to view in London.
They contain insights into the final days of the Rising leaders such as Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and Seán MacDiarmada.
MacDiarmada’s records include the account of a British officer in the aftermath of the Rising. He said that MacDiarmada was not able to walk as he had been suffered with polio since 1911. He was suffering considerable at the time of the surrender on 29 April 1916,
The officer said: “I asked him why he could not march. One of the others told me his leg was paralysed.”
The records also show that the officers initially struggled to identify MacDiarmada as a leader of the Rising as he was known to them as ‘John McDermott’ which is not how his name appeared on the Proclamation.
A letter from Patrick Pearse to his mother has also been digitised. In the letter, Pearse explains why the rebels surrendered. He said it was in order to ‘prevent further slaughter of the civilian population and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers’.
James Connolly was assessed by doctors following the Rising. Their report said that he was: “Perfectly rational and in complete possession of his faculties. His mental condition has been and still is perfectly normal and his mind, memory and understanding entirely unimpaired and that he is fit to undergo his trial.”
The files on Michael Collins suggested that he had become a bit overweight. One extract said: “Must have been a powerful man a few years ago: now heavy in movement and greatly out of condition … Looks like a publican.”
The records also include information on key figures such as Tom Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh and Éamon on de Valera.