Padraig Pearse was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in Ireland
, a pivotal event that changed Irish history forever.
Padraig Pearse was born in Dublin, on November 10, 1879
to an English father (he was a sculptor) and an Irish
Pearse became interested in the heritage and history of
Ireland at a very early age and joined the Gaelic League
when 21 years old. The purpose of the league was to
promote Irish tradition and language and it was very much
part of the revival of Gaelic consciousness that took
place at the turn of the century. Pearse was an
enthusiastic member and became editor of the leagues
newspaper: An Claidheamh Solais ('The Sword of Light').
Pearse tried to use knowledge and education to defeat the
English and insisted on the use of the native Irish
language and founded St. Enda's College near Dublin in
1908. St Enda's structured its curriculum around Irish
traditions and culture and tutored in both the Irish and
Pearse was a pioneer of Irish writing and published poems,
stories, articles and essays to further the identification
of Ireland as a separate culture.
The Gaelic League inevitably attracted militant nationalists
and Pearse soon realised that it would take more than
education and tradition to break the link with England.
In July 1914, Pearse was made a member of the Supreme Council
of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a militant group
that believed in using force to throw the British out of
When England entered the First World War Irish nationalism
split between those who wanted to take advantage of England's
plight and those (including John Redmond) who wanted to
assist England in the war in the hope of getting concessions
when it was over.
John Redmond, a member of Parliament fighting for Home Rule,
took a pro-British stance during the war. This alienated
many Irish citizens and support for the Brotherhood grew.
Shortly before 1915, the Irish Republican Brotherhood had
plans for a full military revolution in Ireland. Pearse was
a believer in a revolution while the British were occupied
fighting a war in Europe. Pearse was opposed to Redmond's
stance and felt that the only way to liberate Ireland was
by insurrection. His famous oration at the funeral of
Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa (an Irish revolutionary) in August
1915 demonstrates this:
'We stand at Rossa's grave not in sadness, but in
exultation of spirit... This is a place of peace sacred to
the dead, where men should speak with all charity and all
restraint; but I hold it a Christian thing... to hate evil,
to hate untruth, to hate oppression, and hating them to
strive to overthrow them... while Ireland holds these
graves, Ireland unfree, shall never be at peace.'
Pearse was heavily involved with the planning of the 1916
Easter Rising which was the catalyst for the subsequent
War of Independence, Civil War and eventual declaration of
a Republic in 1949.
The Rising failed as Pearse must have known it must. He
was executed on May 3, 1916 with fourteen other rebels.