On this day in 1916, on Easter Monday in Dublin, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, a secret organization of Irish nationalists led by Patrick Pearse, launched the “Easter Rebellion,” an armed uprising against oppressive British rule.
Joined by Irish trade unionists under socialist James Connolly, Pearse and his fellow Irish republicans attacked British government headquarters across Dublin and seized the Irish capital’s General Post Office. Following these successes, they proclaimed the independence of Ireland, which had suffered under the repressive thumb of Britain for centuries. By the next morning the republicans were in control of much of the city.
Later that day, however, British authorities launched a counteroffensive, and by April 29 the uprising had been crushed. Pearse, Connolly and other leaders of the rebellion were executed. Nevertheless, the Easter Rising is considered a landmark event on the road to establishing an independent Irish republic.
Following several more decades of struggle, 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties finally won independence as the Republic of Ireland in 1949. Despite years of bitter conflict, six northeastern counties remain part of the United Kingdom, known today as Northern Ireland.
Photo: James Connolly memorial in Dublin, by sculptor Eamonn O’Doherty. Behind the statue is the starry plough, the independence symbol on the flag of the socialist Irish Citizen Army. It later became a symbol of the Irish labor movement and Irish republicans in general. Engraved in the memorial is Connolly’s famous statement: “The cause of labour is the cause of Ireland – the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour.” Informatique CC 2.0