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1916 Easter Rising's Continued Impact On Ireland And Abroad

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Pittsburgh Remembers 1916
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Dublin City Library and Archive
The General Post Office in Dublin shown here after the 1916 Rising.

100 years after the Irish rebel forces collided with the British Army in the bloody Easter Rising, the country continues to experience political tension. This weekend as part of the “Easter 1916: Pittsburgh Remembers” organization, author and historian Tim Pat Coogan will discuss his latest book on the Rising and talk about its lasting impact in Ireland and abroad.

The Easter Rising began with the Easter Proclamation, a document created by nationalists calling for Irish men and women to rise up against the British. Fueled by long standing frustrations over the country’s lack of a parliament, the nationalists banded together.

Unfortunately, the rebels found themselves massively outgunned by the British soldiers. Only able to hold out for around a week, they were soon captured and their leaders put to death.

“They had very inferior armament and a tiny handful of men,” Coogan says. “They were outnumbered by about ten to one, at least to start with, and then the British poured in thousands of more troops.”

The rebellion was seemingly squashed. However, Coogan says the martyrdom of the nationalist leaders sparked a change in Ireland. Before the Easter Rising, nationalists were viewed with suspicion and not liked by the Irish population. Their executions began turning things around.

“There’s nothing like a firing squad to change people’s minds,” Coogan said.

It was not long after that the Irish people rose up in arms, culminating in the Irish War of Independence. Ironically, the British once more incited the Irish against them, calling the fighting a “police war” in an attempt to delegitimize the rebels. This only led to more fighters joining their cause, and by the war’s end, the free Irish state was born.

Despite winning their freedom, tensions remain between Ireland and Britain, particularly at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, which remained part of the United Kingdom. Coogan compared the situation to America’s border woes with Mexico.  While the two countries have enjoyed a good relationship in the past few years, talks of England leaving the E.U. have reignited border worries.

He hopes Irish-Americans continue their interest in their homeland, especially when it comes to visiting and appreciating their heritage.

“I’d like to see the Irish traditional maintained.” 

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