My wife and I recently took a trip to Ireland. There are so many aspects of this wonderful country that strike the visitor. But perhaps chief among them is the history, both ancient and modern, in which Ireland is steeped.
One-hundred and four years ago, on this day in 1916, a group of rebels in Dublin and other Irish cities, launched yet another attempt to throw off the iron fist of the English. In what would become known as the Easter Rising, (and you thought Jesus Christ was the only one who rose on Easter) 485 people were killed during the six days of fighting.
Of those 54% were civilians, 30% were British military and police and 16% were Irish rebels. More than 2,600 were wounded. Many of the civilians were killed or wounded by British artillery and machine guns or were mistaken for rebels.
As insurrections go this one, based on the immediate end result, failed miserably. The huge numbers of British troops quashed the rebels and arrested the leaders.
In a show of obdurateness, the British made quick work of incarcerating, courtmartialling, and executing the leaders of the rising. The result of this rush to judgment was to make these men and women into martyrs.
Even many Dubliners who were opposed to the rising as a means of achieving freedom were deeply moved by the executions. The deaths fueled a movement that, over the next six often bloody years, would lead to independence for at least a part of Ireland.
As you make your way through the streets of present-day Dublin you are reminded constantly of the violent struggles that took place a mere century ago. Beautiful architecture, statues, and memorials show the signs to this day of bullets from the past. Maybe these mementos of a worse time contribute to Dubliners’ great sense of craic!