Easter Rising Part 1: Pre-1916

Easter Rising is one of the most momentous moments in Irish history, setting the stage for the Anglo-Irish War in the 1920s, and continues to shape Irish society. But what is it and why did it happen? Easter Rising was an Irish protest concentrated mostly in Dublin with a few firefights in the countryside and was crushed by the British in about a week. Many consider the Rising itself to be a failure, but its political and social aftershocks made it a success.

To understand why the Rising happened, one most first familiarize themselves with Irish’s tortuous history. This post will briefly review some of the major events in Irish history, like Daniel O’Connell and the Young Irelanders, Charles Parnell and Home Rule, and John Redmond. It will then discuss the creation of the Irish Volunteers and the merging with the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) as well as provide brief biographers on the major players of Easter Rising. It will be followed by a post that will describe the rising itself and a final post that will discuss its aftermath and legacy.

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The Importance of Remembering

“I know it is the fashion to say that most of recorded history is lies anyway. I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written.”-George Orwell

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) and it made me think about the importance of remembering and of preserving the testimony of witnesses.

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Book Review: The Year of Liberty: the History of the Great Irish Rebellion of 1798

The Year of Liberty: the History of the Great Irish Rebellion of 1798 by Thomas Pakenham. Published in 1993 by Random House, Inc.

 

I have been fascinated by the 1798 rebellion ever since I first discovered the band the Wolfe Tones and realized they were named after an Irish rebel. Needless to say, I was excited when I found this book-two years ago. Please don’t judge me, my tbr pile is at least six hundred books. Anyway, I finally got around to reading it and found it enlightening.

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Book Review: The Story of the Lafayette Escadrille

The Story of the Lafayette Escadrille by George Thenault. Published in 2009 by Bibliolife

I’m sure one can imagine my excitement when I saw this memoir in my local military library. George Thenault was the French commander of the Lafayette Escadrille from the very beginning to the moment it was swallowed by the American Expeditionary Force and turned into the 103d Aero Squadron. The memoir was originally written in 1919 and became a global success, ensuring that Thenault would spend eleven years in the United States, serving as a military attaché. I had always wondered how Thenault and his second in command Lt. de Laage de Meux had felt about their American pilots and the memoir did not disappoint.

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Book Review: Portrait of a Revolutionary

Portrait of a Revolutionary General Richard Mulcahy and the Founding of the Irish Free State by Maryann Valiulis Published in 1992 by University Press of Kentucky

Richard Mulcahy is a criminally underappreciated Irishmen. Born in the 1890s and starting his career as a postal worker, he would eventually study to become an engineer, before taking part in Easter Rising, and ending up as Chief of Staff of the IRA. Working together with men like Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, and Cathal Brugha, Mulcahy struggled to install order on an unruly group of insurgents. His most important contribution to the creation of the Irish Free State, however, was his firm leadership during the Irish Civil War and the 1924 Mutiny that followed. The Mutiny pushed him to the background as De Valera took the spotlight, but Mulcahy remained a permanent feature of Irish Politics becoming party leader of Fine Gael in 1944 and serving in a various number of ministries throughout his long life. He even cobbled together a coalition government that forced De Valera’s party to the opposition in the 1948 elections. He died in 1971 at the age of 85.

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Why We Need Another Movie on the Battle of Britain

As a history buff, I was ecstatic when Darkest Hour came out. Gary Oldman’s performance brought life into Winston Churchill again and the cinematography and editing provided the adrenaline and fear needed when dealing with a foe like the Nazis. However, the ending left me wanting it to continue and include the Battle of Britain. This is partially because it is the natural continuation of the story started in Darkest Hour, but also because it would provide an in-depth look at the international dimension of the battle.

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Book Review: Easter 1916 the Irish Rebellion

Easter 1916 the Irish Rebellion by Charles Townshend. Published in 2015 by Penguin

I’m going to start this review with a warning: Charles Townshend is one of my favorite historians. I have read few historians who can take complicated messes and break them down into short, easy to understand chapters within a chapter, while also providing keen analysis and insight in a mostly unbiased way. Additionally, his book, the Rising,  may or may not have saved my ass when writing my graduate paper.

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Eamon de Valera Part I

There are few men who participated in the Anglo-Irish War and the Irish Civil War who have as complicated a legacy as Eamon de Valera. He was a mathematics professor, last man to surrender during Easter Rising, leader of the Dáil and the IRA, instigator of the anti-treaty movement, political outcast, and Taoiseach, and, finally, president of Ireland. He did more to shape the Irish constitution and its relations with both North Ireland and England than any other single person. His decisions didn’t always make sense and he hurt his own legacy as much as it was twisted over the trauma of the civil war and his lengthy presidency. However, it is his legacy and the mythos that surrounded him that makes him an interesting historical figure to study. I will discuss his life and legacy in two different posts. This first post will discuss de Valera’s leadership during the Anglo-Irish and Civil War and the second post will de Valera’s presidency and later period of his life.

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The Importance of Land

I have recently finished R. F. Foster’s book Modern Ireland 1600-1972 and it got me thinking about land distribution during and after conflict.

In Ireland, Cromwell targeted the land once owned by those who rebelled. This happened to be the elite of Irish society and he redistributed the larger tracts to his followers and Anglo-Irish as well as small tracts of land to Catholics who swore fealty to the crown. The Protestant population was always a minority within Ireland, but because of the land they owned and the favor they received from England, they were able to build a Protestant Ascendancy whereas the Catholics remained poor farmers or out migrated.

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