The History

Timeline of Events Leading up to The Easter Rising

There are many different reasons why some organisations felt the need for an armed insurrection in 1916. The Famine, or Great Hunger of the 1840's, when a milllion people died of starvation in a country where there was plenty of food, followed by massive emigration suggests that the British Government were pursuing a policy of land clearance. This of course resulted in the decline of the Irish language, the decline of the Irish spirit and would later mainfest itself in a move towards independence.

The phrase, Forgive but don't Forget, is often used regarding the Great Hunger. Remember that the men and women of '16 were only a generation or so removed from the 1840's, so without doubt, The Famine had a bearing on the "build-up" to the Rising. One thing we also discuss on the 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour, is the intricacies surround the formation of the various organisations that sprung up at the turn of the 20th Century. The following is a fairly brief account of the Timeline to the Easter Rising, and is a handy guide for students of Irish History. Feel free to copy or distribute:

November 1st 1884 The Gaelic Athletic Association founded to promote Irish sport and games. The association denies membership to the police and army and was immediately infiltrated by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).

April 8th 1886 First Home Rule Bill for Ireland presented by Gladstone, the Liberal Prime Minister of Britain, to the House of Commons.

June 8th 1886 First Home Rule Bill defeated by 343 votes to 313.

July 31st 1893 Gaelic League founded by Douglas Hyde and Eoin MacNeill in order to encourage Irish people to speak the language and take a greater interest in their culture.

September 1st 1893 Gladstones' Second Home Rule Bill passed by House of Commons but vetoed by The House of Lords by 419 votes to 41.

September 1900 Cumann na nGaedheal (Irish Council) founded by Arthur Griffith in order to promote a buy Irish campaign.

1903 National Council formed by Griffith to protest the proposed visit of Edward VII to Ireland. The Council attracts members such as W B Yeats and Maude Gonne.

1905 Dungannon Clubs founded in Ulster to promote separatism from Britain. Bulmer Hobson and Denis McCullogh, IRB revivalists, were the main organisers of these societies.

1905-07 Cumann na Gaedheal, the National Council and The Dungannon Clubs are amalgamated to form Sinn Féin (We Ourselves)

August 1909 Countess Markievicz and Bulmer Hobson organise nationalist youths into Na Fianna Éireann (Warriors of Ireland) a kind of Boy Scout brigade. The emphasis was on the Irish Language and establishing independence. Many members were later to join the IRB.

April 1912 Asquith introduces the Third Home Rule Bill to the British Parliament. Passed by the Commons and rejected by the Lords the Bill would have to become law thanks to the Parliament Act. Home Rule expected to be introduced for Ireland by autumn 1914.

January 1913 Sir Edward Carson and James Craig set up Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) with the intention of defending Ulster against Home Rule.

1913 Jim Larkin founder of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) calls for a workers strike for better pay and conditions.

August 31st 1913 Massive protest rally on Sackville Street attacked by the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Two strikers killed by the police.

November 23rd 1913 Larkin and James Connolly establish the Irish Citizens Army in order to protect strikers.

November 25th 1913 The Irish Volunteers founded in Dublin to "secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland". By 1914 their ranks swell to 100,000. In line with the Volunteers, a womens league, (Cumann Na mBan) is founded and organised by Countess Markievicz, Agnes O'Farrelly and Mary MacSwiney.

April 24th 1914 A shipment of 35,000 rifles and 5 million rounds of ammunition are landed at Larne for the UVF

July 26th 1914 Irish Volunteers unload a shipment of 1,500 rifles and 45,000 rounds of ammunition freshly arrived from Germany aboard Erskine Childers' yacht the Asgard. British troops fire on jeering crowd on Bachelors Walk, Dublin, killing three citizens.

August 4th 1914 First World War declared. Home Rule for Ireland shelved for the duration of the war with Germany.

September 9th 1914 Meeting held at Gaelic League headquarters between IRB and other extreme republicans. Initial decision made to stage an uprising while Britain is at war.

September 20th 1914 John Redmond urges Irish Volunteers to enlist in the British Army. A split occurs in the movement as 170,000 leave the Volunteers and form the National Volunteers or Redmondites. Only 11,000 remain as the Irish volunteers under Eóin MacNeill.

May-September 1915 Military Council of the IRB is formed consisting of Pearse, Plunkett, MacDiarmada, Ceantt and Clarke. These men take effective control of the plans for the Rising.

August 1915 Pearse gives fiery oration at the funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa warning Britain that "Ireland unfree shall never be at peace".

December 1915 Military Council manipulation ensures Denis McCullough becomes president of the IRB. McCullough has no knowledge of the Military Council or their plans.

January 1916 James Connolly encouraged to join the IRB and is voted onto the Military Council thus ensuring that the Irish Citizens Army shall be involved in the Rising. Thomas MacDonagh becomes the seventh member of the Military Council several weeks later. Rising date confirmed for Easter Sunday.

April 9th 1916 The Libau sets sail from Lubeck in Germany. Captain Karl Spindler changes the name of the vessel to the Aud to avoid detection by the British who would be very interested in her cargo of 20,000 rifles bound for Tralee Bay on the south west coast of Ireland.

April 12th 1916 Sir Roger Casement boards submarine U-19 at Wilmshaven, Germany, bound for a rendezvous with the Aud at Tralee. With him are Robert Monteith an IRB man and Sergeant Daniel Bailey a former prisoner of war who had joined Casements Irish Brigade. Casement tired and ill after many months in Germany seeking military assistance for the Rising.

April 19th 1916 Alderman Kelly reads the Castle Order to a meeting of Dublin Corporation. This forged document supposedly from Dublin Castle, indicated that there was to be mass arrests of Irish Volunteers to prevent "trouble".

April 20th 4.15pm The Aud arrives at Tralee Bay. As the local Volunteers expect the ship to arrive on Easter Saturday, the arms are not landed. Spindler waits in vain for a signal from shore.

April 21st 2.15am Roger Casement and his two companions go ashore from U-19 and land on Banna Strand. Bailey and Monteith go to seek the local Volunteers. Hour's later Casement is discovered at McKenna's Fort and is arrested by the Royal Irish Constabulary.

6.30pm The Aud is captured by the British Navy and forced to sail towards Cork Harbour.

April 22nd 1am Karl Spindler and his crew scuttle the Aud to prevent her precious cargo falling into enemy hands. The weapons for the Rising are lost to the sea off Daunt's Rock.

10pm Eóin MacNeill as Chief of Staff of the Irish Volunteers issues the Countermanding order in Dublin to try to stop the Rising. The O'Rahilly embarks on a journey to the South with these orders.

April 23rd 9am The Military Council meet to discuss the situation considering MacNeill has placed an advertisement in a Sunday newspaper halting all Volunteer operations. The Rising is put on hold for 24 hours. Hundreds of copies of The Proclamation of the Republic are printed in Liberty Hall.

April 24th 12 Noon The 1916 Rising begins in Dublin.
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