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Irish republicans failed to establish an independent republic on Easter Monday of 1916. This rebellion was the direct forerunner of the Irish War of Independence.






  • Date: 24 – 29 Apr 1916
  • Location: Dublin, Ireland
  • Event: Rebellion against the British rule in Ireland


Parties & Persons Involved

  • Irish underground & paramilitary organisations
    • Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB)
    • Irish Volunteers (IV)
    • Irish Citizen Army (ICA)
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland
    • British Army



  • The United Kingdom is engaged in World War I (1914 – 1918)
  • Since 1801: Great Britain & Ireland form the United Kingdom with one parliament in London
  • Amongst the political opposition radical groups of Irish nationalists form:
    • Irish Republican Brotherhood, IRB (1858 – 1924) – Secret organisation aiming for an independent & republican Ireland
    • Irish Volunteers, IV (founded: 1913) – Paramilitary organisation initiated bye the IRB
    • Irish Citizen Army, ICA (founded: 1913) – Paramilitary organisation with a background in socialism & trade unions



Planning of the Easter Rising

  • 04 Aug 1914: The United Kingdom declares war on the German Empire
  • 05 Sep 1914: The IRB Supreme Council decides to launch a rebellion before the World War ends & accept whatever support Germany offers
  • Apr 1915: Plunkett, Director of IRB‘s military operations, travels to Germany & presents a plan for a joint operation:
    • A rebellion in Dublin contains British troops
    • German forces invade the west of Ireland
    • Germans & Irish Volunteers secure Connacht
  • The German Empire is only willing to supply the IRB with weapons
  • Jan 1916: The IRB convinces Connolly, who wanted to strike independently, to join a common operation


Preparing the Rebellion

  • 09 Apr 1916: The SMS Libau, disguised as Norwegian Aud, puts to sea in Lubeck with 20,000 rifles, machine guns & 1 million rounds on board
  • 20 Apr 1916: The SMS Libau arives in Trallee Bay
  • 22 Apr 1916: The Royal Navy captures the Libau/Aud after the Irish contacts do not show up
  • 22 Apr 1916: IV head of staff McNeill orders all missions to be abandoned
  • McNeill’s order only leads to a one-day delay
  • 22 – 23 Apr. 1916: Under-Secretary for Ireland Sir Matthew Nathan & Lord Lieutenant Lord Wimborne decide for measures against IV & ICA after Easter Monday


Easter Rising in Dublin

  • 24 Apr (Easter Monday): Approx. 1,200 IV & ICA take positions in Dublin
  • GPO is headquarters, the Irish Tricolour is hoisted & the rebels proclaim the republic
  • The government holds Dublin Castle & loyalists hold Trinity College
  • 25 Apr: The Lord Lieutenant, Lord Wimbourne, declares martial law
  • British troops take City Hall
  • From 26 Apr: British reinforcements arrive from England & Wales
  • The British bombard the Irish positions from Trinity College & the gunboat Helga
  • Machine guns & snipers in the Shelbourne Hotel force the Irish to withdraw from Stephen‘s Green to the College of Surgeons
  • 27 Apr: British forces take the Irish positions around Grand Canal
  • British attacks on South Dublin Union Hospital & Four Courts are mostly repulsed
  • 29 Apr: The new Irish commander Pearse unconditionally surrenders after the British shelled the GPO for days


Immediate British Reaction

  • Apr – May 1916: The British security forces arrest 3,509 actual & suspected rebels
  • 1,480 Irish are interned in England & Wales – the camps become Universities of Revolution (Michael Collins in Frongoch interment camp)
  • 03 – 12 May 1916: 15 leaders of the Easter Rising are executed for treason in Kilmainham Gaol because they co-operated with the German Empire
  • Eamon de Valera escapes the death penalty, esp. because he also is an American citizen


Consequences & Impact

  • Reaction of the Irish population:
    • At the outbreak of the rebellion: Surprised & alienated
    • During the rebellion: Mainly rejecting because of violence of the rebels & supply problems
    • After the rebellion: Mainly sympathising because of the hard British reaction
  • The executed leaders of the rebellion become martyrs for the Irish republican cause
  • Sinn Fein becomes the most powerful party & wins 75 of 105 seats in the election of 1918 à the elected form the 1st Dail Eireann (1919)
  • The Easter Rising advocates a violent solution for achieving Irish independence
  • The Easter Rising directly leads to the Irish War of Independence (1919 – 1921)