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Thread: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

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    Default Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Last night watched a really gripping drama on netflix, Rebellion. It's about the Irish rebellion against the British in 1916. I don't know much about the history beyond the most basic outlines. But what I found really interesting was how mixed up everything was - loyalties divided, families split, and a lot of Irish soldiers in the British army faced a difficult dilemma.

    Were the Irish volunteers brave heroes fighting for freedom, or were they ideological fanatics who brought about a bloodbath? From what I could see, it seemed that both things were true at once. Real life is complicated, and I think it was handled really well.

    Anyone seen the series? And any thoughts about the history of the Irish uprising? Was the uprising justified? And how did they win, given that the initial uprising seems to have been crushed?

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Hmmm where do I start

    Despite having a great love of my country's history, I only watched the first episode of that show and never finished it. I will almost certainly go back and finish it some day, but I've already read so much about the subject and seen so many documentaries as well as covering it extensively in Secondary school, so the show doesn't interest me as much now as it would have 10 years ago.

    While the overall depiction of the rebellion is pretty accurate, a lot of details were either glossed over or exaggerated. This is a example of what I mean (very slight spoilers);

    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    When the rebels attack Dublin Castle in the show they have a bit of a conversation with the unarmed policeman before killing him, in real life the policeman was shot without an exchange of words as they wanted to storm the gates as quickly as possible.


    Little things like that. The show, while generally well received here, did kick up a bit of a fuss amongst academic historians and general history buffs/nerds who argued over things as trivial as the color of uniforms and the correct type of rifles/pistols used during the Rebellion.

    My biggest gripe with the show is the lack of coverage for events that happened outside of Dublin. Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of the fighting occurred in Dublin city. But there were significant rebel actions in other parts of the country that led to little or know bloodshed due to conflicting orders resulting in a significant amount of confusion and inactivity in rebel unit's throughout the country.

    In particular was the 'Battle' of Ashborne. It was more of a large skirmish than anything else, but it was still a very successful action by the rebels in a rural town outside of Dublin. Rather than taking and holding buildings of political/strategic significance and waiting to be attacked like the Rebels in Dublin did, the rebel commander pursued aggressive guerrilla warfare tactics and successfully captured a Police Barracks, derailed a train and won a massive firefight with a large police patrol. If such tactics had been replicated throughout the country then the rebellion might have actually stood a chance of success.

    The success of such guerrilla tactics lead to their widespread use during the war of Independence which started in 1919 and a complete departure from the usual tactic of seeking to defeat the British in pitched battles.

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Oh right, so there was another attempt at indepedence in 1919? And that was the one that was successful? How long did the war last?

    So if I understood right, the first time round the rebels lost because they stayed holding positions which could be surrounded by the British and overwhelmed? Whereas the second time they realised that it's better to keep moving and pick them off rather than staying around to wait for the British to respond?

    I visited Ireland recently so it's prompted my interest. I was in Cobh and Kinsale. Before that, I'd never thought about Ireland much but it's great discovering the history. The other thing is it seems the British were too brutal in their reprisals. Rounding people up and shooting them like that - it's terrible. Seems like even if most people didn't necessarily support the rebels at first, seeing them mistreated like that convinced a lot of ordinary people to support the independence movement.

    Is this right?

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Now to answer your specific questions;

    Quote Originally Posted by bigdaddy1204 View Post
    Were the Irish volunteers brave heroes fighting for freedom, or were they ideological fanatics who brought about a bloodbath? From what I could see, it seemed that both things were true at once. Real life is complicated, and I think it was handled really well.
    You've basically answered the question yourself! There were some who thought the rebellion had a genuine chance of success if everything went as planned (typical of Irish history, everything went wrong!) and there where those who saw the rebellion as being a 'blood sacrifice' which would lead to a greater revolution, sacrificing themselves for the greater good.

    Even those who wanted to sacrifice themselves did so for different reasons. There were the Socialists under James Connolly (basically communists) who wanted to start a socialist workers revolution and there were the larger, more nationalistic faction who wanted a united Irish Republic.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigdaddy1204 View Post
    Was the uprising justified?
    That very much depends on who you ask. Ireland was a colony. It's people were very poorly represented politically and what little representation they did have was toothless as all major decisions were made by Westminster. The vast majority of the land and wealth in general was owned by a wealthy protestant elite, while the majority Catholic population languished in poverty. Ireland had some of the worst slums in Europe and highest rates of immigration. Hence why the Irish diaspora came into existence. Millions moved to Australia, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and England in search of jobs, leaving Ireland pretty underpopulated when compared to similar areas int he rest of Europe.

    Change was desperately needed but the British government was disinclined to offer any. Things came to a head in 1914 hen the British were meant to offer 'Home Rule', a very very, limited form of autonomy which Loyalists (primarily protestant and primarily in Northern Ireland) were violently opposed to and the country was on the verge of civil war. WW1 gave the British convenient breathing space as they were able to put the whole thing on hold until after the war.

    The Irish Volunteers were a nationalist militia organized to defend home rule. Their leader decided the best way to get Home Rule was to give the British their full support during the war and he played a major part in getting over 200,000 Irishmen to join the war effort. Likewise the Ulster Volunteer Force, who were formed to fight against Home Rule, were not to be out done and they too joined the war effort in massive numbers. This is why Ireland was so highly represented in British forces despite conscription never being implemented during the war.

    Th Irish Volunteers were split over the issue and a faction of 10,000 or so refused to fight for England, they along with the Irish Citizens army (the socialists) they were the ones who rebelled in 1916.

    The people were initially vehemently against the rebels and pelted captured rebels with rotten fruit when they surrendered to the British. However the British reacted so harshly, executing the leaders, killing of civilians and in particular the massive internment of thousands of people who had nothing to do with the Rebellion turned public opinion against the British and in favor of the rebels.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigdaddy1204 View Post
    And how did they win, given that the initial uprising seems to have been crushed?
    The Blood Sacrifice types, as extreme as they might sound, proved to be correct. The British reaction to the rebellion was so heavy handed that it caused a national outcry and provoked a popular guerrilla movement which the British were unable to counter by conventional means (particularly with the bankruptcy and war weariness of the post war 1920's). This was called the Irish War of Independence and lasted from 1919 until 1921.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_War_of_Independence

    The War started after ww1 as the British released the interned prisoners from the rebellion and hundreds of thousands of Irish soldiers returned home from France. The few thousand rebels who had been interned soon radicalized the other prisoners who had nothing to do with the rebellion, so when they go out of the prison camp they wanted to actively fight the British, despite having no inclination to do so. History repeats itself in a lot of ways because something very similar happened in Iraq where extremists radicalized those who were wrongly interned with them and was one of the direct causes of creating ISIS.

    The soldiers returning home were also disgusted by how martial law had been implemented by the British and how heavy handed the authorities had become, despite thousands fighting and dying in France for the sake of the Empire. This meant that those seeking to start the war of independence had plenty of willing (and experienced) recruits with which to do so.

    As a said above guerilla warfare and the crippling of the British spy network in Ireland was used extensively and the only real method the British had to counter this was heavy handed tactics such as reprisals and mass imprisonment. This of course only gained the rebels more support and made the British look extremely bad on the world stage, particularly in America where Irish voters were able to put significant pressure on their congressmen to have the American government do something about it. Eventually the British because too frustrated, financially strained and above all war weary to continue the fight.


    This led to an eventual settlement, giving Ireland dominion status (the same as what Canada, Australia, New Zealand had), but not the full Republic that was what the rebels fought for, particularly because the majority protestant areas of Northern Ireland remained as part of the UK. This led to a civil war, but that's a whole other story. Long story short Ireland gained independence in all but name by 1923 and declared itself a full republic in 1949, severing all connections with the British commonwealth.

    Quote Originally Posted by bigdaddy1204 View Post
    Oh right, so there was another attempt at indepedence in 1919? And that was the one that was successful? How long did the war last?

    So if I understood right, the first time round the rebels lost because they stayed holding positions which could be surrounded by the British and overwhelmed? Whereas the second time they realised that it's better to keep moving and pick them off rather than staying around to wait for the British to respond?

    I visited Ireland recently so it's prompted my interest. I was in Cobh and Kinsale. Before that, I'd never thought about Ireland much but it's great discovering the history. The other thing is it seems the British were too brutal in their reprisals. Rounding people up and shooting them like that - it's terrible. Seems like even if most people didn't necessarily support the rebels at first, seeing them mistreated like that convinced a lot of ordinary people to support the independence movement.

    Is this right?
    Yup! That's pretty much exactly how it went down. The failed rebellion caused a chain reaction that led to a successful war of independence. It also led to the Partition of Ireland, the Irish civil war and The Troubles in Northern Ireland, which aren't exactly things to celebrate. But they would be each deserving of a thread of their own so I won't go into detail on them here
    Last edited by IrishBlood; January 03, 2017 at 11:49 AM.

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    What may be of interest is how the events of 1916 are still considered to be 'edgy' today.

    I edit one of the UK's leading historical magazines, and last Easter we had a gentleman who dived the wreck of the Aud send in an article Roger Casement and the sinking of the Aud, in addition to an article on the Dublin elements of the rising itself, which was deliberately kept objective, giving weight to both sides, and written by an Irishman who was working for a museum in Dublin.

    Oh God. The meetings.

    We run some pretty controversial and edgy stuff, but never before or since has there been such attention paid to what happens if a feature backfired and if people (in this case the Irish or British) took offence to the articles, articles which were in this case rather tame in terms of controversy.

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Are you saying that people complained about the articles? That people were fanatical about perceived inaccuracies? From what I've read online, the TV series received a harsh response from critics - very unfairly so, in my opinion. It was well written, compelling and utterly believable. But there's always someone who's ready to complain that the unforms aren't the right shade of green, or that some other minor detail isn't right. It's a shame, because I've never seen anything else about Ireland and I found it fascinating. I really hope they make a series 2.

    What were the most controversial aspects of the rising? Why would people object to an article about the sinking of the Aud? What was the sinking anyway? I've never heard of it (apologies for my ignorance)

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    That's the thing, we received no complaints from the public, British, Irish, or otherwise. The articles were deliberately written and edited to stick purely to the facts, they were not opinion pieces, and they handled the atrocities committed by both sides with equal weighting. Like I said, deliberately tame, bordering on watered down, but the fuss in the office before we published was insane...

    We ran a revisionist article on Haig last year, and I wrote an article examining the strategic effectiveness of weaponised gas on the Western Front last year as well. They were relatively controversial and both received praise and a number of complaints, but despite being deliberately edgy, no fuss in the office whatsoever...

    I don't know what it is like in Ireland, but from what I've seen, at least outside of university, there is an underlying level of, shall I say, 'concern' regarding the Troubles and other such elements of Anglo-Irish history in the UK.

    Cromwell though, that is fiiiiine.

    The Aud was a disguised merchant ship which the Germans were using to run guns to would be Irish revolutionaries, organised by in part Sir Roger Casement. 20,000 captured Russian rifles, a handful of machine guns, and plenty of ammunition.

    Obviously the rising the arms were intended for never really took hold in 1916 (with the exception of Dublin and a handful of other parts) with confusion about it being called off and other problems, but regardless, the arms never arrived as the British found and sunk the ship after it landed Casement. Then about a day later the British found Casement, put him on trial for treason, and hanged him.

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Ireland in 1916 was very much a part of the British Empire. But in the late 1800s there was a resurgence of nationalist identity. Traditional Irish Gaelic games were organised nationwide, there was fierce political movements to revive the Irish language and many Irish politicians picked up pace in their fight for 'Home Rule' in Westminster. Home Rule was where the Oireachtas (Irish Parliment) in Dublin would basically gain much more power to govern Internal affairs within Ireland while remaining a member of the British Empire. A big step but not really looking for Independance.

    This nationalist revival in the late 1800's carried on until ww1 where by which time there had arisen a group of Irish Nationalists that would fight tooth in nail for Independance. As previously stated cases like the sinking of the Aud clearly showed that the crown showed more sympathy for armed Northern Unionists but would shoot down any attempts by nationalists to have an armed gathering, clearly favouring one over the other when in hindsight they should have shown complete intolerance to any armed force outside the army and police.

    The nationalist revival also spawned men such as Patrick Pearce, James Connolly, Thomas Clarke etc who were nationalist revolutionaries. They had socialist idealogies and gained prominence through trade unions and labour workers as they organised strikes in Dublin against Protestant Industrialists who were judged to underpay and underprovide for their employees. Pearce also was a teacher and poet who wrote many quotes that are repeated many times in Irish nationalist literature. Some leaders like Roger Casement were previously knighted by the British for his efforts to expose worker cruelty in the Belgian Congo. But it seems they did not like when he exposed workers concerns in British ruled Ireland. So all in all the men who led the 1916 rebellion have a worthy CV between them. But even as an Irish man, for the time I think rebellion was a bit fanatic, as did most of the Irish until the British made one HUGE mistake.

    The rebellion leaders went by the slogan 'Britian's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity'. After the 1916 rising failed, the British were furious that an armed uprising would so treacherously emerge right in the thick of WW1 where approx 30,000 Irish men loyal to the crown lost their lives. But they severely underestimated that while the rebellion did not have much popular support, it did have some sympathy. And without a trial they executed 7 leaders. There was uproar in Ireland. So much so that the British had to stop any further executions.

    The surviving rebellion leaders joined the Home Rule party 'sinn fein' and the British media mistakenly labelled the 1916 Rising the "Sinn Fein Rising", giving the movement a political platform. This completely changed the identity of Sinn Fein as beforehand it just wanted Home Rule and not such a radical move as Independance. Absolute madness on their part as without it the leaders could probably have been divided and scattered but instead all sympathy and support against the executions and now for complete independance was all thrown into Sinn Fein. This was where men who had only played very junior roles in the 1916 rising came to prominance such as Michael Collins and the divisive man De Valera who was only spared after 1916 because he had an American passport.

    In 1918 the British moved to pass conscription in Ireland for the war and it was gloriously abused by Sinn Fein. They went hell for leather to fight it and the Irish loved it. Again the British had to drop it due to popular outrage and Sinn Fein managed to get into power in 1919 after the wars end for all they were seen to have achieved. The IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) had by now become the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and Michael Collins had reformed them to become truly excellent in espionage and guerilla war tactics. However they were fanatically nationalist and 2 IRA members murdered a British officer in 1919, and this set off a chain of events that led to the war of Independance in 1919-1921, when the majority of Ireland (26 counties of 32) that was in the majority nationalist became independant. The treaty of 1921 drew the line of partition seperating the Unionists in the North that had largely adapted to British culture while the nationalist movement flourished in the South.

    The treaty was signed by Collins who believed that any further fighting would only lead to more suffering and no reward because there was no popular support for sinn fein in the north, but de Valera was furious. (Even though he showed have been at the Treaty signing, it's suspected he knew no more could be achieved but didn't want to be associated with compromise). The treat led to the foundation of the Irish Free Sate but discord between pro-treaty and anti-treaty forces caused a civil war. The pro treaty side won convincingly but Michael Collins was assassinated during this time.

    De Valera resumed his role as leader of Sinn Fein before forming Fianna Fail and spearheading a nationalist movement bringing Ireland closer to Catholic Rome against Protestant Britian and reviving all things Irish ie gaelic games, promoting the Irish golden age of Saints and scholars, the Book of Kells, Irish folklore. It all brought great economic hardship as there was an economic war with Britian and huge political and idealogical tension between the two countries but it did revive Irish identity hugely. A globalist's nightmare de Valera was, but despite all his love for Ireland I don't think de Valera was anyone's cup of tea. The Irish don't like him much either.

    That's all pretty simplified but I think it's a half decent if simple breakdown of the period.

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkhorse View Post
    That's the thing, we received no complaints from the public, British, Irish, or otherwise. The articles were deliberately written and edited to stick purely to the facts, they were not opinion pieces, and they handled the atrocities committed by both sides with equal weighting. Like I said, deliberately tame, bordering on watered down, but the fuss in the office before we published was insane...

    We ran a revisionist article on Haig last year, and I wrote an article examining the strategic effectiveness of weaponised gas on the Western Front last year as well. They were relatively controversial and both received praise and a number of complaints, but despite being deliberately edgy, no fuss in the office whatsoever...

    I don't know what it is like in Ireland, but from what I've seen, at least outside of university, there is an underlying level of, shall I say, 'concern' regarding the Troubles and other such elements of Anglo-Irish history in the UK.

    Cromwell though, that is fiiiiine.
    I think the the main reason it's considered edgy is because there are two competing narratives (at least when taken in context of society at the time); Whereby the rebels were ungrateful terrorists (before terrorists even became a word) attacking the empire in it's time of need, while their fellow Irishmen died in their thousands fighting in France.

    The other side of the argument is that of plucky rebels fighting against a tyrannical empire. Simplistic as it may seem, those were the two main ways of viewing the rebellion for a very long time. Indeed, many still view it in through such a simplistic lens.

    Both views will of course offend people on both sides. I think from the British perspective it's 'edgy' because WW1 is viewed with rose tinted glasses in terms of the entire empire coming together to fight the 'evil Germans' oppressing little Belgium, while at the same time rebels in Ireland were rising up against the 'tyrannical British Empire' which was oppressing little Ireland.

    I know from the Irish perspective the media/government/certain historians actively try to distance the Republican rebels of 1916 and the IRA from the war of Independence from the republican 'terrorists' in northern Ireland. In reality one gave birth to the other and in terms of tactics, atrocities and actual legitimacy of representing the people they claimed to be fighting for, they're all pretty damn similar. So the government is caught in a situation where they have to celebrate nation heroes who got Ireland it's independence, while not giving any legitimacy to the IRA in northern Ireland (and other groups), whom they have labelled as terrorist groups.

    One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter and it's all just a matter of context, perspective and timing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Agrippa19 View Post
    Ireland in 1916 was very much a part of the British Empire. But in the late 1800s there was a resurgence of nationalist identity. Traditional Irish Gaelic games were organised nationwide, there was fierce political movements to revive the Irish language and many Irish politicians picked up pace in their fight for 'Home Rule' in Westminster. Home Rule was where the Oireachtas (Irish Parliment) in Dublin would basically gain much more power to govern Internal affairs within Ireland while remaining a member of the British Empire. A big step but not really looking for Independance.

    This nationalist revival in the late 1800's carried on until ww1 where by which time there had arisen a group of Irish Nationalists that would fight tooth in nail for Independance. As previously stated cases like the sinking of the Aud clearly showed that the crown showed more sympathy for armed Northern Unionists but would shoot down any attempts by nationalists to have an armed gathering, clearly favouring one over the other when in hindsight they should have shown complete intolerance to any armed force outside the army and police.

    The nationalist revival also spawned men such as Patrick Pearce, James Connolly, Thomas Clarke etc who were nationalist revolutionaries. They had socialist idealogies and gained prominence through trade unions and labour workers as they organised strikes in Dublin against Protestant Industrialists who were judged to underpay and underprovide for their employees. Pearce also was a teacher and poet who wrote many quotes that are repeated many times in Irish nationalist literature. Some leaders like Roger Casement were previously knighted by the British for his efforts to expose worker cruelty in the Belgian Congo. But it seems they did not like when he exposed workers concerns in British ruled Ireland. So all in all the men who led the 1916 rebellion have a worthy CV between them. But even as an Irish man, for the time I think rebellion was a bit fanatic, as did most of the Irish until the British made one HUGE mistake.

    The rebellion leaders went by the slogan 'Britian's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity'. After the 1916 rising failed, the British were furious that an armed uprising would so treacherously emerge right in the thick of WW1 where approx 30,000 Irish men loyal to the crown lost their lives. But they severely underestimated that while the rebellion did not have much popular support, it did have some sympathy. And without a trial they executed 7 leaders. There was uproar in Ireland. So much so that the British had to stop any further executions.

    The surviving rebellion leaders joined the Home Rule party 'sinn fein' and the British media mistakenly labelled the 1916 Rising the "Sinn Fein Rising", giving the movement a political platform. This completely changed the identity of Sinn Fein as beforehand it just wanted Home Rule and not such a radical move as Independance. Absolute madness on their part as without it the leaders could probably have been divided and scattered but instead all sympathy and support against the executions and now for complete independance was all thrown into Sinn Fein. This was where men who had only played very junior roles in the 1916 rising came to prominance such as Michael Collins and the divisive man De Valera who was only spared after 1916 because he had an American passport.
    A very good summery, however you left out one absolutely vital point: The internment of innocent people after the rising. I dare say this had an equal, if not greater, impact on turning public opinion against the British than the execution of the leaders did.

    Over 3,000 were arrested after the failed rebellion and over 1000 remained in an internment camp for the duration of the war. The British arrested virtually anyone of any prominence who were in 'nationalist' organizations of any kind, regardless of how far removed or totally un-involved in the rising they were. Those interned also became the core of the independence movement, as they had nothing better to do than plot the course of the coming war upon their inevitable release.

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Quote Originally Posted by IrishBlood View Post
    That very much depends on who you ask. Ireland was a colony. It's people were very poorly represented politically and what little representation they did have was toothless as all major decisions were made by Westminster. The vast majority of the land and wealth in general was owned by a wealthy protestant elite, while the majority Catholic population languished in poverty. Ireland had some of the worst slums in Europe and highest rates of emigration. Hence why the Irish diaspora came into existence. Millions moved to Australia, the USA, Canada, New Zealand and England in search of jobs, leaving Ireland pretty underpopulated when compared to similar areas int he rest of Europe.
    Indeed. Ireland in the 19th century was one of the poorest and most overpopulated countries in Europe. In 1800, Ireland had a population of 8 million: that's 2 million more than today (if you include N. Ireland that is, it's nearly twice the population of RoI today). By 1916 it was down to around 3 million. Mostly through emigration, but also because of disease and starvation, most notably during the years of the potato famine.

    Yup! That's pretty much exactly how it went down. The failed rebellion caused a chain reaction that led to a successful war of independence. It also led to the Partition of Ireland, the Irish civil war and The Troubles in Northern Ireland, which aren't exactly things to celebrate. But they would be each deserving of a thread of their own so I won't go into detail on them here
    It also led to Ireland going from being one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the best countries in the world to live in, notwithstanding the economy in recent years. Ireland still has a better HDI and quality of life than Britain despite its higher unemployment rate. I don't know if that would be true if it hadn't become independent.
    A new mobile phone tower went up in a town in the USA, and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cellphone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health.

    A local administrator was asked to comment. He nodded sagely, and said simply: "Wow. And think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational."

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    Indeed. Ireland in the 19th century was one of the poorest and most overpopulated countries in Europe. In 1800, Ireland had a population of 8 million: that's 2 million more than today (if you include N. Ireland that is, it's nearly twice the population of RoI today). By 1916 it was down to around 3 million. Mostly through emigration, but also because of disease and starvation, most notably during the years of the potato famine.



    It also led to Ireland going from being one of the poorest countries in Europe to one of the best countries in the world to live in, notwithstanding the economy in recent years. Ireland still has a better HDI and quality of life than Britain despite its higher unemployment rate. I don't know if that would be true if it hadn't become independent.
    Yeah I wholeheartedly agree the above. The standard of life is basically the best it has ever been for the people of Ireland and independence was undoubtedly for the best. However, we did have serious teething problems particularly the civil war. Worse than that however was the Economic war and the stagnation of Irish society into a rigidly conservative Catholic state, which was a massive detriment in Ireland in my opinion.

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    I did a bit of Irish political history back in the 1990's and from the little I studied the Uprising was a dramatic game changer. In parallel with the "rebel" narrative Agrippa describes is the constitutional narrative, the Home Rule party, Isaac Butts, Charles Stuart Parnell etc. which was the apple cart the rebels turned over.

    The Famine was a terrible blow to "old Ireland", the native language and traditional ways. From the 1850's on English grew until it was the first language of most: I would say it was the final stage in a successful cultural colonisation, and by the 1890's it took a revivalist movement to attempt to preserve versions of Irish language and culture.

    At the same time Irish nationalist aspirations took a decidedly English turn: in tandem with the occasional armed uprising (a traditional Irish political experession0 came the Home Rule party and mass popular movements like the Land League. To be fair the mass movements began with Dan O'Connell in the 1820's, and he began the movement of disassembling the religious hegemony of the CoE.

    The masterful Parnell managed to harness the political party, hijack the land league and allegedly had some influence on the murderous terrorists too (at least according to his enemies) and it was only his love for Captain O'Shea's wife (oh and the utterly undemocratic and bigoted House of Lords) that prevented him from achieving a measure of Home Rule for Ireland. In the 1870's-1880's and again just before WW1 the Home Rule / Irish party held the balance of power and faced the prospect of (limited, carefully hedged but real) self rule for the Irish for the first time since the 1680's.

    Of course opportunists sought to derail the process, or nudge it into new paths or use the crisis points as a fulcrum for their own projects: Randolph Churchill and later Carson fanned the flames of sectarian violence, and the real concerns of ulster Presbyterians (long oppressed by English rule and expecting similar oppression from the Catholic Home Rulers). IRA and IRB thugs and puppet masters gave their fears substance while the Irish party made slow, grubby, compromising political progress. Its easy to understand disappointment in the political process when it was slow and unjust, and "power lay in the hands of landlords whose ancestors raped our people" but "those bloody Catholics will murder us in our beds like at Londonderry" etc but progress was being made.

    In 1911 Asquith backed by the King faced down the deeply bigoted and conservative Lords with threats of mass peer creation to force a finance reform through Parliament that created the precedent necessary to establish Home Rule (now seen as basically an inevitability, despite the damage it would do to the Empire): WW1 interrupted the process but the main chance was Home Rule would win the day, and the hopeless desperation of the ulster Presbyterians led them to consider armed revolt. All sides saw loyal service in the war as way to prove loyalty and win brownie points when the political battle resumed after the war.

    The splinter group that started the revolt in 1916 rendered the century of political work starting with O'Connell null. When the foolish desperadoes tried to betray the Empire they had practically no chance, and I have spoken to many Irish friends whose grand parents told them how most Irish disapproved of the stupid rebellion and brought care parcels to the troops (many Irish) besieging the Post office.

    The harsh response of the British commandant lost him and the government sympathy, and even more so the immediate loss of confidence in Irish Catholics (it seemed all the worst expectations about the majority were proved by the actions of this tiny group, much like the position some Muslims find themselves today) by the other players: all the worst fears about brutal disloyal bloody Irish who could not keep the peace seemed to have come true.

    A few leaders grasped the importance of the moment at once; Griffiths saw the political process was ended almost at once and called for a massive campaign of civil disobedience "on the Hungarian model" (citing examples from a Magyar uprising in the mid 19th century that may not have happened as he described): his tactics proved brilliantly effective and to my mind he and the ordinary citizens with the courage and fortitude to carry out the plan were the architect of Irish independence such as it is.

    The Irish Party limped on loyally, bemoaning the revolt and cooperating with the empire but their time was done, and new leaders seized the day. De Valera and Collins were the outstanding men but a whole crop arrived, and seized control of groups through violence, dishonesty and courage in the fluid situation once WW1 concluded.

    The Horse Guards planned and proposed a campaign of punishment in Ireland, basically another Cromwellian campaign of rape and slaughter to repress the Catholics: a sign of the moral exhaustion after the war was over, as well as proof the political game board had been swept away by the revolt.

    Most of the south turned solidly against the Empire and the campaign Griffiths proposed of creating parallel Irish state and simply ignoring the apparatus of British Imperial rule proved Ireland could and did rule itself.

    The scattered bands of armed men shooting one another claimed all the credit and the myth of Collins and the gun was cemented as Irelands foundation story: I view that version very cynically. If the British had sent in an army of occupation rather than scattered paramilitary forces they would have wiped the IRB from the face of the earth as had happened so often before. The British Empire surrendered Ireland to its fate in exhaustion, choosing to retain its Empire elsewhere. Ulster was the sacrifice demanded from both sides, a very unhappy state acting out the fears deliberately fostered by evil men like Randolph Churchill and Carson, and given substance by the murderous rogues prepared to gun down any Irish who disagreed with their version of politics.

    Despite peace with the Empire and partial home rule the raggedy gangs could not stop shooting and gradually gunned one another down until the futility of the killing became apparent. Its very difficult to ascribe the success of Irish Home rule to these terrorists but that's what Irish history does, or at least the Sinn Fein version.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Indeed. It all makes me personally very happy that the Scottish independence struggle is so peaceful. Northern Ireland is so close, the people there are literally our closest cousins, in fact almost the exact same people what with the constant population exchanges between our two islands over the past 1500 years. It serves as a reminder that violence and nationalist hysteria are nothing to do with culture or race or genetics or even history, since which of these does Scotland not share with Ireland? The only difference between the two is the gross abuses and persecution of the Irish within the past 150 years. Violence begets violence: if the British government and Scottish nationalists had ever had or were ever to have an armed confrontation with significant loss of life then Britain would have another insurgency on its hands (and it came closer to that than you might think, since although the Scottish nationalist movement is arguably stronger now than it has been since the Wars of Independence, there were occasions in recent history where armed confrontation was not entirely off the cards). And if they had not treated Ireland the way they did in the 19th Century then all the troubles of the past 100 years would never have happened.
    A new mobile phone tower went up in a town in the USA, and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cellphone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health.

    A local administrator was asked to comment. He nodded sagely, and said simply: "Wow. And think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational."

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    Indeed. It all makes me personally very happy that the Scottish independence struggle is so peaceful. ...
    Very interesting and worthwhile comparison, there are many of the same political, social, cultural and religious questions in play. The gentle pursuit of independence in Scotland recently has been in marked contrast to the older history of violence we see in both Scotland and Ireland, which in Ireland persisted into the 20th century.

    Scotland did see a harsh treatment of its people up to the 18th century with Culloden and the enclosures, but I think the native religious fervour of the Presbyterian movement serve to preserve identity and perhaps subdue dissent. The "Irish" or Erse component of Scots society (as the Gaelic speaking highlanders were described in times past) has been as practically eliminated as the Gaelic Irish was, not completely but fairly effectively.

    Scots were shown some respect in their act of union, whereas the Treaty of Limerick which promised some respect to the Irish was not honoured, perhaps the exigenice sof desperate war set the divergent courses? I have read an opinion that the Tudor and Stewart dynasties served to bind Wales and Scotland more closely to England (and lets face it, Britain is a vehicle for London supremacy above all), and it suggested had an Irish dynasty managed to snatch the throne Ireland would have been less of a running sore for so long. I'm not sure about that, Ireland as a separate geographic region always seemed less easy to bind than England's terrestrial neighbours.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    @Cyclops, I agree with the majority of what you said but you missed a few things.

    The reason it was so easy for 'modern' nationalists to high jack the Home Rule movement, or for said movement to occur at all, was due to the dire poverty the people of Ireland faced. The disenfranchised masses were desperate for change and would take it where ever they could get it. The nationalist/Republican movement promised them things that the British establishment never would and to a large extent these promises were eventually kept (although it took a decade or two).

    As for the necessity of the 'bands of armed men' they were a necessary evil I think. The British would have never come to any meaningful compromise without them. The timing was perfect for a guerrilla war. The British couldn't simply launch another full scale invasion of Ireland and brutally repress everyone and everything because of the league of nations. It would have been a PR nightmare. They were 'freeing' the repressed people of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Saving tiny Belgium from German oppression had been their national rallying cry during the war, so to brutally suppress the rebellion in Ireland (more so than they already did IRL) would have been the height of hypocrisy. Not to mention that doing so would have been a very heavy burden on the already shattered British economy, exacerbated even further by the economic damage such an invasion would due to Irreland.

    I also don't think that the USA would have tolerated it. The Irish lobby was pretty damn big in the States at the time and the USA played no small part in pressuring the UK to come to terms with the IRA.

    Collin;s

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    Very interesting and worthwhile comparison, there are many of the same political, social, cultural and religious questions in play. The gentle pursuit of independence in Scotland recently has been in marked contrast to the older history of violence we see in both Scotland and Ireland, which in Ireland persisted into the 20th century.

    Scotland did see a harsh treatment of its people up to the 18th century with Culloden and the enclosures, but I think the native religious fervour of the Presbyterian movement serve to preserve identity and perhaps subdue dissent. The "Irish" or Erse component of Scots society (as the Gaelic speaking highlanders were described in times past) has been as practically eliminated as the Gaelic Irish was, not completely but fairly effectively.
    I've noticed the above in a lot of accounts of Scottish history, and I have to say I think it's a bit of a double standard to make this connection between the 'Highlanders' and the Irish. Firstly, the Scoti migrated to Scotland 1500 years ago, so one has to ask at which point will their Scottish citizenship applications be given the green stamp? Another 500 years maybe? Secondly, there is a lot of gaps and downright misconceptions in the traditional 'postmodern' account of Scottish history, which goes something like this:

    1. Prehistoric Scotland is an unliveable wasteland populated solely by Pictish troglodyte tribes so primitive that the Romans couldn't even be bothered conquering them, and they are left in their prehistoric quagmire until the highlands are conquered by Scoti from Ireland.
    2. Meanwhile Lowlands quickly become Anglicised, and the Highland-Lowland cultural divide is born.
    3. Wars of Independence - internecine conflicts between Anglo-Norman Scottish nobles, with proto-nationalist rhetoric used solely as propaganda.
    4. Lowland Highland cultural divide, having already been prominent, achieves new heights with Henry VIII's decision to convert Great Britain to Protestantism. Catholic Highland clans fight against the Protestant Lowlands and the English until they are eradicated after Culloden.
    5. Scottish people become faithful British subjects, and pass the evenings singing God Save the Queen and Rule Britannia and getting rich off the slave trade, and occasionally making small and insignificant contributions to major technological inventions and political ideologies which they would later take all the credit for.
    6. Populist SNP cynically play on the anti-English prejudice of the uneducated masses.


    Whereas in fact:

    1. There were certainly military conflicts between the Scoti and the Picts, but they also allied on several occasions to defend Scotland from external threats such as the Anglo-Saxons. There was no almighty clash and conquest between the 'Irish' and the Picts, but rather the Scoti who had migrated to the West coast founded a breakaway kingdom based in Scotland, known as Dal Riada, which over time fused and melded with the Pictish kingdom, until towards the end the Picts, at least at the elite level, became Gaelic speakers. The final destruction of the Pictish Kingdom was less of a conquest and more of one side winning out in a civil war between the two Gaelo-Pictish dynasties (for there was little to distinguish the royals of either side from one another after centuries of intermarriage and cultural blending, barring the ancestral Pictish names of the Pict kings). The first Kings of united Alba, though nominally Scoti of Irish descent, had lived in the Western parts of Scotland for centuries and shed the yoke of their original rulers in Ulster some time before.

    2. Not really true. 'Old English' took a foothold in Scotland early on (in fact, so early on that it was long before there was such a thing as 'England', and indeed parts of the first settlement were within modern Scotland, so technically the Anglo-Saxon dialect that would become Scots spread not from England but straight from Denmark to Scotland and shouldn't be regarded as 'English' at all) but only in a very small area. Almost all of Lowland Scotland, previously Brythonic, was likely Gaelicised long before it was Anglicised. Scotland incidentally is one of the oldest continuous polities in the world, and it was founded as a Gaelic nation, so although Gaelic culture is now no longer prominent, the polity of Scotland was majority Gaelic speaking for centuries before it became Anglophone: the seeds of the Highland-Lowland divide began to be sown during the settling of the Lowlands with Anglo-Norman nobles and the establishment of the soon-to-be 'Inglis' (Scots) speaking Burghs, but they were only seeds, and they grew very slowly: Gaelic was still spoken in much of the Lowlands until around 1400, and beyond that in the far North-East and South-West. William Wallace was a Gaelic speaker and he was certainly not a Highlander despite what Braveheart would have you believe. Supposedly he was from Renfrewshire, although more likely he was from somewhere near modern Kilmarnock in Ayrshire. Still, the fact that either of those areas was Gaelic speaking in the late 13th century shows that Gaelic was still alive and well in parts of the Lowlands at the time of the wars of independence, outside of the burghs (and naturally, the vast majority of the population lived outside of the burghs, England at the time was something like 10% urbanised and Scotland even less so). At any rate, anyone who spoke Gaelic was considered 'Irish', because that was the name of the Gaelic language. Scots speakers were obviously not under any illusions that their countrymen in the fields outside of Glasgow and Aberdeen were any more 'Irish' than themselves, except in linguistic terms.

    3. That's a debate for another thread.

    4. Also for another thread, though I would point out that a lot of people seem to be woefully ignorant of the Scottish Reformation: even today many Scots are under the impression that Scotland is Protestant because of Henry VIII and that the Church of Scotland is simply the Scottish branch of the Church of England. Presbyterianism may be aligned with Anglicanism when it comes to the official hierarchy but Anglicans do not attend Presbyterian churches when they come to Scotland, they attend the Scottish Episcopal Church, which is the true Scottish Anglican Church.

    5. Only because Rule Britannia is so catchy.

    6.


    This is all not directed specifically at Cyclops since he clearly is well informed on Scottish history for the most part.
    A new mobile phone tower went up in a town in the USA, and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cellphone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health.

    A local administrator was asked to comment. He nodded sagely, and said simply: "Wow. And think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational."

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    Default Re: Rebellion: the Irish uprising of 1916

    Quote Originally Posted by Copperknickers II View Post
    I've noticed the above in a lot of accounts of Scottish history, ...
    This is all not directed specifically at Cyclops since he clearly is well informed on Scottish history for the most part.
    Well I am better informed now, great to be corrected or filled in. I am a great fan of the "bodies of water as unifiers rather than dividers" in European history, I see the Ulster-West Scotland connection as a close one, ditto the Cornwall-Brittany (proved by history) and East Anglia-Netherlands connection (sometimes curiously supported by obscure religious trends as well as the obvious Angle). The Highland "Erse" called themselves Galli IIRC back then if they used a general term at all, and their language Gallic, so saying a Highlander is Irish is like saying a Londoner is a Saxon (something a Scot might do, but not a local) or that a Dutchman is a Frank (something an Arab might do, but not a local) or...anyway you get the picture, its a foreigners view of scots history.

    While propaganda can be over-rated in its effect (and I am suspicious of the Great Man school of history) I would not under estimate the role of the Scottish education system (related to the same social revival that produced Presbyterianism) and the immense influence of writers like Sir Walter Scot in Scotland's alternate path. Both Scots and Irish were derided as violent extremists in the 17th century, caricatured as Whigs and Tories (Presbyterian moss troopers and Catholic bog trotting brigands respectively) in the political system down to this day.

    I think the tight grassroots nature of the Presbyterian church gave a national focus to scots ideology that Ireland lacked (the Church their could play a very supportive role but never an exclusively Irish one): that focus allowed a minority of lords to militarily dominate the country but also resist being swamped by the CoE by implementing a pretty decent education system. The Irish laity resisted the CoE too but their lords were overthrown or seduced, perhaps a victim of their wealthier estates? Less people were interested in dispossessing Argyll or bonny Dundee for profit, and the Irish Lords and towns were uninterested in founding schools.

    In the next century and a half Sir Walter Scot and Rabbie Burns gave the literate Scots people high and low tone poetry: Scot became a European superstar as a poet and was much more highly regarded and when he was knocked off the charts by lord Byron he transformed into a revisionist historical novelist preaching the middle way of collaboration with London against the extremes of highland brigandage and mean Knoxian austerity. I read him with pleasure because he tells you in the footnotes when he is lying, and he always makes his Irishmen blackguards.

    Irelands geniuses in this age were lawyers like Burke making nasty jibes about landlords eating babies, and the bizarre Sterne who predates Joyce by over 150 years as the early modern post-modernist: these writers did nothing to weave the Irish psyche into a British whole.

    In many ways the militarised Scots lairds timed their entry in to the British state in 1707 very well, on something like their own terms after the groundwork was laid by a personal union a century earlier. Ireland was hauled in yard by bleeding yard, with less political unity or religious focus, despite stronger support from the European monarchies to resist England. As a person of largely Irish descent I could make a joke about my people loving an argument too much, but its a sad and murderous story that I don't feel like laughing about much.

    To me the lost opportunity for Ireland and Britain was the sanity of George III. When Ireland was persuaded to join the union in 1800 (Britian desperately shoring up its political unity in the face of Revolutionary temptations) Pitt's promise was Catholic (and IIRC Presbyterian) emancipation: limited access to parliament, property etc instead of the harsh (if only loosely applied) penal laws. George III snapped out of his madness just long enough to scotch this payoff, and proscription remained in place until it was broken 25 year later by Daniel O'Connell.

    Instead of presenting as generous and fair minded (as they intended to be) the British Parliament were by the meanness of their monarch painted as grasping, dishonest deal breakers who hated Catholics more than they loved justice. O'Connell's victory showed a Irish Catholic could brandish a new form of Irish unity against Parliament and win, a very dire precedent on the back of the first. Sadly this followed the general path of Irish history up to that point, with broken deals, missed chances and bad blood all around, and neither the unity nor the Union lasted.
    Jatte lambastes Calico Rat

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