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The Easter Rising was a foundational event in Ireland’s history. It inspired the change in social and political system that had a direct correlation to the moderation of the nation.
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Occurring over the dates 24 April 1916 to 29 April 1916, the Easter Rising took place mainly in Dublin, and was the first major revolt against British rule in Ireland in over 200 years. The rebellion resulted in a massive increase in resentment among the Irish towards the English – especially following the mass arrests, executions and martial law imposed following. These changes impacted Ireland into becoming a modern nation both through significant changes in both social and political aspects, with the inclusion of women being the first and a massive step forward for gender equality in the state. Equality is a major aspect of a nation being ‘modern.’ The Easter Rising became the first stage in the War for Independence which directly resulted in the formal declaration of an Irish Republic in 1949.
The extreme world-wide tension throughout World War I was very prominent in Ireland. The Liberal government had made the decision to concede home rule, which provoked a stand-off between Protestant Unionists in Ulster, led by Sir Edward Carson, and Catholic Nationalist supporters of Home Rule led by John Redmond’s Irish Parliamentary Party. This led to the further development of extremists, who were the group responsible for the initiation of the Easter Rising.
Many people claim that the Easter Rising was the first real step towards Ireland becoming a democratic Irish state, as it was the first instance in which Irish had revolted against British rule since 1798. Large parts of Dublin, including the General Post Office, Boland’s Mills, Stephen’s Green, the Four Courts & Jacob’s Factory, were captured by Irish rebels and were defended for six days. This was taking place mid World War 1, an era in which there was a significant amount of social change regardless. Amidst rebels there was a fear that this was the “last chance to save Irishness,” as already 150,000 Irish troops were serving alongside the English. This was significant as it meant that, given the timing of the event, a greater impact would be felt. It may have also meant that given the extreme negative shift of social climate given World War 1, people would have been more inclined to support Ireland becoming a republic. The Irish people had a lack of a say in the politics of the conflicts they were becoming involved in.
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A large social repercussion of The Easter Rising was that a great number of the Irish, who were previously indifferent to British rule, changed their opinions and began to advocate to for an Irish independence. This came upon seeing the utter disregard the English had for Irish life, a direct result of the unsuccessful nature of the military aspect of the riot. Over the six days of the rising, 2000 poorly armed and reasonably untrained rebels faced the entire might of the British Empire. The initial reaction of the public, much to the dismay of the protestors, was severely lacking. It was only following the surrender and execution of 18 political leaders who were directly involved with the event, later heralded as ‘martyrs,’ that the public’s opinion shifted. Ninety of the main protagonists and leaders of the rebellion were found guilty of treason and were sentenced to death by firing squad. The people’s opinion on the matter shifted as they felt the punishment was far too harsh. The overreaction of the British, which also involved mass arrests and martial law fuelled the public’s resentment of them. Support grew for the rebels and the concept of a free Irish state which they had proclaimed as the executions continued. In fear of further civilian uproar, only 19 of the 90 rebels sentenced to death were actually executed. The Easter Rising resulted in over 3000 casualties, the majority of which were civilians – often because of the British’s use of heavy machine guns and artillery or mistaking civilians as rebels. This was skewed by the English, who put the emphasis on the casualties suffered by their side. The extreme bravery displayed by the poorly armed and amateurly trained rebels was inspiring for many civilians. The Easter Rising had a significant social impact on the Irish people and had a strong influence on many people’s opinions regarding home rule. It was an important step when it came to uniting the Irish people under one common goal. Had the Rising been a peaceful protest, the English’s reaction probably would not have been as violent and as much attention wouldn’t have been drawn.
Women were involved in the Rising, which was a huge step toward gender equality in the country. Countess Markievicz was one of the most influential in the Easter Rising. She was a widely outspoken politician, suffragette and socialist. It is believed that more than 100 women were directly involved in the Rising, many being doctors, nurses, providing food and some even fighting along-side the men. One of many notable examples is that of Helena Molony, a journalist, who smuggled guns into Ireland to assist the rebels. The contributions and involvement of women in the Easter Rising was revolutionary and heavily influential. The Easter Rising occurred during the suffragette movement, which in and of itself had a large impact on Ireland becoming an equal, modern nation. Irish women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote in 1918 – just two years following the Rising.
The Easter Rising was the pivotal point in which Ireland set on the path to becoming a modern nation. There was a significant amount of social change following the Easter Rising. the change of Irish opinion surrounding British rule, following their harsh overreaction. This social change was extremely influential when it came to the Irish fighting for their independence, which was seen from the Easter Rising up until the introduction of home rule. The involvement of women, both in military and medical aspects, had a direct correlation to the push for gender equality in the state. Given the political and social climate during the rising, which was during World War 1, people were more inclined to turn against British rule. This was also because of the Irish people serving alongside the British while having minimal say in the politics surrounding the conflict itself. Given that the Rising was the first act of rebellion against British rule in over 200 years, it has been argued that it was the beginning of Ireland becoming a modern nation.
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