On this day: Easter Rising, 1916

On this day, in 1916, as the Easter Rising raged on in Dublin, one hundred Volunteers in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford, 65 miles south of the capital, took control of their town.

Fearghal McGarry, in The Rising: Ireland: 1916, Oxford University Press, 2010, gives details.

"In the early hours of Thursday morning one hundred Volunteers, armed with pikes, shotguns, and no more than two dozen rifles, seized the town. . . . The Enniscorthy Volunteers appear to have had a realistic sense of what was achievable; Galligan told a local priest 'that we were only carrying out our orders and I believed that there was no hope of success'.

"'The republican flag was hoisted . . . and saluted with bugler and firing party'. For Michael Kirwin, this was 'a thrilling moment', as were the first shots fired against the old enemy in Enniscorthy since the battle of Vinegar Hall on June 21st 1798. Unsurprisingly, Vinegar Hill was also reoccupied, if only to fire off a few ineffectual but symbolic rounds in the direction of the police barracks. . . .

"The Volunteers' success in capturing the town emboldened others to join them . . . suggesting that the military council's dream of a popular insurrection was not entirely fanciful in the right circumstances. . . . for a brief period in Enniscorthy, a town that had a longstanding Sinn Féin presence, rebellion seemed more viable than futile. . . . Throughout the week, rebel reinforcements arrived from nearby towns such as Wexford, New Ross, and Ferns; non-Volunteers . . . 'decided to join up and be with the boys'. As elsewhere, there were priests (including, as in 1798, a patriotic Father Murphy) on hand to provide their blessing . . .

"Enniscorthy's 'four glorious days as a Republic' merit only a few lines in most accounts of the Rising but for local republicans its political and psychological impact was profound. . . . 'We were on the road to freedom'."

--Search term: Enniscorthy. Pages 241-242.

McGarry had access to a "newly un-archived trove of over 1,700 eye-witness statements". For anyone unfamiliar with the events that occurred in Ireland during Easter week 95 years ago, McGarry's book is a perfect introduction. For those who have studied the Rising, reading the words of eye-witnesses will provide a new level of understanding.

Click here for the book's Amazon page.

Click here for the Wikipedia article on Enniscorthy. Scroll down halfway for an account of the town's role in the 1916 Rising. Click here for the Battle of Vinegar Hill, 1798.

Click here for a YouTube: "The Easter Rising 1916 (real footage of aftermath)".

Click here for the Wikipedia article on the Easter Rising. The External Links at the bottom lead to important sites.

Click here to read William Butler Yeats's famous poem, "Easter 1916", which ends with:

I write it out in a verse-
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly.
A terrible beauty is born.

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