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Friday, April 24, 2015

Irish Rebels Seize Dublin Post Office in Easter Uprising, 1916

Flag of the Irish Citizens Army

On Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, an insurrection against British rule in Ireland took place in the capitol city of Dublin.  Led by a collection of volunteer organizations including the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Fein, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizens Army, the armed uprising was planned for months in advance.  But the capture of the German ship, the Aud, bringing guns for the rebels meant that “any chance of a successful uprising disappeared,” wrote Irish historian Michael Kenny in The Road to Freedom, published by the National Museum of Ireland.

An official British communication, published in The Boston Globe, read:

“At noon yesterday serious disturbances broke out in Dublin.  A large party of men identified with the SF party, mostly armed, occupied Stephen’s Green and took possession forcibly of the Postoffice, where they cut the telegraph and telephonic wires.  Houses were also occupied in Stephen’s Green, Sackville Street, Abbey Street and along the quays. In the course of the day soldiers arrived from the Curragh and the situation is now well in hand.”

But on April 28, the Globe reported that the revolt was spreading outside of Dublin and that martial law had been declared across the island. Subsequent reports referred to the rebels as “traitors to Ireland,” but that sentiment quickly changed when British General Maxwell executed the captured Irish leaders on May 3, 1916.

In Boston, the Irish community had already rallied against the British and saw the rebels as heroes.  In a speech in Pittsfield, MA on May 1, 1916, Joseph O’Connell, ex-US Congressman from Boston, told a rally organized by the Friends of Irish Freedom,  "I glory in the brave spirits who defied the tyrant England, and I am very proud that there are yet Irish in Ireland with the spirit of Wolfe Tone, Emmett, Meagher, John Boyle O’Reilly and O’Connell...who dare to oppose the despotic rule of England in Ireland.”

Later that summer, Nora Connolly, the daughter of Irish rebel James Connolly, one of the executed leaders, came to Boston to “tell the true story of the Irish uprising.”  The 23 year old woman made a great impression on the Boston media and on the area’s large Irish community. 

While in Boston Nora Connolly was the guest of Mayor James M. Curley, who gave orders that “every courtesy possible is extended to her while in Boston,” wrote The Boston Globe.  As she was leaving City Hall, “the mayor handed her a substantial purse of money, the gift of a few Friends of Irish Freedom, as the mayor put it.”