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Ireland’s Exiled Children and Easter Rising 2016

2016 brings with it a special celebration and time of self-inspection for Ireland. It’s now 100 years since the 1916 East Rising, a pivotal event in forming what is now the Republic of Ireland.

It’s an emotive subject, so I’m sure just having this blog post posted will lead to some strong replies.

In 1916, Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. World War 1 was underway. And about 1,000 Irish rebels took on the British forces. At a turning point, they took over the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin.

The General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin.
The General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin.

In his upcoming book “Ireland’s Exiled Children: America and the Easter Rising”, author Robert Schmuhl does a good job at gauging what the public opinion was around the Easter Rising. He says that not much is actually documented in Ireland about the public’s opinion. There’s much more information held in the archives of American media.

Schmuhl takes the stories of four exiled men: Devoy, Kilmer, Wilson, and de Velera. For example, Devoy was arrested for his part of revolutionary activity, and was exiled to America. He uses the stories of each of them, and how they’re related with the United States, to tell the broader story of the Easter Rising. That’s an interesting way to shine a light on what happened around the Easter Rising.

Interestingly for the Irish language, the book uses names of the rebels as they signed the proclamation of independence. Some of the men wrote their names in the Irish language, some others did not.

The book starts with a handy timeline, stretching back to the 1850s. In 1858, the secret Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood was founded, and a similar one founded over in New York. The timeline gets beefy around the events of 1914 to 1918. Of course, Ireland’s civil war in the 1920s is part of the timeline.

Early news reports in the States paralleled the Easter Rising with the 4th July. It was a bloody event, drawing comparisons with the Battle of Alamo.

Interestingly, public opinion was important back then, as indeed it is now. The general feeling from the book is that the public in the States felt the British response to the Irish uprising was too heavy handed and fuelled by the want for revenge. They had gone too far.

So if you’re looking for a well-told story, with a strong mix of America’s perspective of the 1916 Easter Rising, I do recommend the upcoming book “Ireland’s Exiled Children”, published by Oxford University Press, out in April 2016.

30 thoughts on “Ireland’s Exiled Children and Easter Rising 2016”

  1. To say the least I’m a bit overwhelmed. Due to a lack of self motivation it’s been a while since I have checked in on your posts/emails. I almost feel like I was guided to see this one by…I’ll say it like I feel it…the Devine. I have learned more from your email about the history of Ireland than I have from a couple of years of self study. I want to thank you Eoin, from the bottom of my heart for the information that you and all who have posted comments for this treasure. It has prompted me to renew my passion to learn even more. Again, thank you all so very much.

    1. Hi Ray,

      We are glad to hear that you are enjoying our emails and that you have renewed your passion for learning 🙂

      If you have any questions regarding Irish Gaelic and our lessons, feel free to contact us at any time.

      Le meas,

  2. In response to the comment:
    >I think he wanted to remind Ireland that the ‘English’ never invaded Ireland,
    > the land of Monks and scholars – they were invited to come by a traitor?

    Indeed, to find out more on the Norman Invasion here: http://irishhistorypodcast.ie/the-norman-invasion/
    by Finbar Dywer who was a guest of Eoin’s on an earlier podcast.

    In short, the island in 1169 wasn’t quite thought of as one country by the population in the modern sense of a ‘country’. This presentation of source material by Gerald of Wales covers the first English “help” to arrive (Strongbow Richard de Clare) to support Diarmait Mac Murchada to regain his rule. So Diarmait is a convenient scape goat. The general conclusion is that the Normans/Welsh over time became more Irish than the Irish so by the time of the second conquest in 1601 Battle of Kinsale had to be a real invasionto cause the flight of the Irish Earls, and decline of Irish Gaelic. In this audio clip:
    by Radio Ulster/BBC Fearghal Mag Uiginn claims:
    In 1840 there were 4 Million Irish speakers and 30 years later there ere less than 1 Million. And wondered why there was no historical research on the topic ever since.

    Éire go Brách!


    1. Mike, thanks for linking to those interesting resources. Worth a listen.

      I’m surprised to hear that the number of Irish language speakers was at 4 million in 1840. I would have thought a lot higher percentage of the 8 million population of the island at the time were Irish speakers.

      1. Robert Emmett Maguire

        Since the British made efforts to discourage the learning of Irish, I would think that many Irish did not want to admit they spoke it.

  3. Vanessa Bushell

    Go raibh maith agat a Eoin, I will look out for it! There are so many great shows, books, photos and information coming out about the Rising – it is so good to see. I’m always amazed how much the rest of the world doesn’t know Irish history or that there is an Irish language! This stuff needs to get out there and the history needs to be acknowledged.

    Slán go fóill

  4. Robert Emmett Maguire

    I leave on the evening of Saint Patrick’s Day for Dublin to help commemorate the Easter Rising. It’s something I’ve been planning for years. Some of the cousins and I will be traipsing around the country to participate in ceremonies and to visit sites having to do with the Rising and the War of Independence.

    Check out http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/eng/Historical_Information/1916_Commemorations/Events/

    Both of my parents grew up down in the country during that turbulent time. My paternal grandfather was a huge Sinn Fein supporter in Leitrim from the time the party started and was known to support the cause most any way he could.

    Emotions ran high in that time as you can imagine.

    My grandfather had a picture of Michael Collins in his tailor shop. My uncle, IRA and an anti-treaty fellow, came in one day during the Civil War and ripped the photo from the wall, resulting in a huge fight that another uncle still remembered in detail decades later. Luckily, only fists were involved.

    When I made my first trip to Ireland back in 1976, a cousin of mine brought me to visit a elderly woman who was still living those Troubles every day. In her kitchen she had a picture of the IRA men who were murdered by Black and Tans at a place called Selton Hill, Leitrim on 11 March 1921. She was overbrimming with emotion as she told us how the Tans dragged the bodies for miles behind a wagon, yelling “Fresh meat!” as they rolled.

    Sean Mac Eoin, a Longford native and IRA leader, was another uncle’s hero. He still remembered with a thrill in his voice seeing Mac Eoin lead his Flying Column threw the village. (If you saw the Michael Collins movie with Neeson, the scene when Collins meets with “Sean” in a Longford blacksmith shop is a dramatization of Mac Eoin.) He told me that story also in the 70s and it was like he had seen them the day before.

    I still am amazed at how strongly those emotions echoed over the decades.

    Or how about the time I went to see some “ceol traidisiunta” with some Dublin cousins. We closed the place down and at the end of the night, the band played the anthem “The Soldier’s Song” and everyone stood to sing it. Very powerful moment.

    Or the recreation of Pearse’s speech at O’Donovan Rossa’s grave. “but, the fools, the fools, the fools! – They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.”

    Still gives me shivers to read that.

    Apart from the An Gorta Mor, the Rising is probably the most important event in Irish history. I’m thrilled that I will be there to help celebrate the first big step towards independence.

  5. The Alamo had nothing to do with the American revolutionary war (1776). The Alamo was a battle won by Mexico in an effort to re-establish it’s claim to what Texans from other American areas called the Lone Star Republic. The Texans lost the Alamo, but won the “war” at the battle of San Jasinto.

  6. My son at National School was asked to rewrite the 1916 Proclamation. He is Irish born of English parents with Irish ancestry:
    1916 Proclamation
    of a new government
    for a Sovereign Republic of Ireland

    We, the undersigned members of a new caretaker government for the peoples of Ireland, call you to arms and to stand firm to reclaim your country from British Rule. Seven centuries ago the High King, Ruaidri Ua Conchobair exiled Diarmait MacMurchada the King of Leinster for his crime of kidnapping, who then betrayed Ireland by swearing allegiance to the Norman King of the English, Henry ll and bringing his foreign soldiers to our shores. As a result of Diarmait’s treason our country was stolen from us. We have long suffered under foreign rule and now is the time to strike out for our freedom.

    We call upon God and in the name of our dead generations who have struggled for our freedom, to protect us and guide us now as the Irish Republican Brotherhood with the Irish Citizens Army and the Irish Volunteers prepare for battle with the occupying forces of the British Government backed up by its army. We are supported by allies in Europe and by our exiled children in America and strike for our freedom in full confidence of victory.

    We declare that this is your country and you own it, not the British and you should be in control of her destiny. No matter how long an occupying force remains on our soil our sovereign imprescriptible right to own our country can never be taken from us. That sovereign right counsels us now to take up arms against the invaders in full view of the world and to lay down our lives if necessary to secure a sovereign independent Republic of Ireland.

    Your new Provisional Government of the Irish Republic is entitled to and claims your allegiance to her cause and to her flag and in return we guarantee you liberty, both civil and religious, equal rights and equal opportunity. We will pursue happiness and prosperity for all, cherishing all its children from all over this nation despite carefully fostered differences created by British occupation.

    Until, by force of arms, we can establish a national government by election of its people, this provisional government will administer the country in trust for you all. We call upon all Irishmen and Irishwomen to be prepared to sacrifice themselves for this most noble cause of freedom and demand your most honourable conduct and readiness for the battle ahead. In the name of the Most High God whose blessing we invoke. Dia seasamh idir sinn agus éagóir.
    Signed on behalf of:
    The Provisional Government of the Sovereign Republic of Ireland
    I think he wanted to remind Ireland that the ‘English’ never invaded Ireland, the land of Monks and scholars – they were invited to come by a traitor?
    In peace Kazzie

  7. Sounds like a book I would enjoy as I write about Irish history myself and have been to Ireland 3 times. I looked up the book and did not find an ebook copy for my kindle. I wonder if there is one and if the author would like to gift me a copy so I can give him a great review? He can find me on Celticthoughts.com

  8. David Franklin

    So I made a note to myself to purchase Robert Schmuhl’s new book, went on to check out the Related Post “Reports: The Irish Language Banned Once Again,” and briefly scanned the article just well enough
    (or just poorly enough) to place myself in a state of high dudgeon, until noticing the dates of the various appended comments and realizing that I had just suffered an anticipatory 2016 April fool joke.

  9. Tom Harrington

    The Battle of the Alamo took place in 1836. Like the Easter Rebels, the Texans there were outnumbered and eventually overrun. Unlike the the Texans, the Easter Rebels were claiming dominion over their own country. The Texans were part of an Anglo-American land grab of Mexican territory.

      1. Thank you. I did buy it. You are a great teacher and your pronunciation is easy to hear and you make the language sound beautiful. Thanks a mil

  10. Thank you sounds like a great book. Maybe you can put a link to it when it gets published. How will Ireland be celebrating this Easter? What is the general Irish sentiment about the Easter Rising? I am going to be in Ireland early part of April and I was just curious. Thanks for your wonderful blog. I absolutely love your audio mp3s. I listen to them over and over at my convenience. Hope you make even more with longer conversation.

    1. I’m sure Ireland is doing lots of things to commemorate the Rising but what I would find really inspiring is to listen to one of those speeches given by an actor posing as Patrick Pearse. I’ve seen the one given in Glasnevin Cemetery. So inspiring. Just thought you may want a tip. Warmly, Brigihid

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