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Here Are 16 Things You Probably Never Knew About The 1916 Rising In Dublin

By katedemolder

December 20, 2016 at 12:10am


The facts and the figures and the sheer sense of history can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to 1916 – to the point where you sometimes forget that there are some phenomenal human stories buried in there.

You don't have to be a history buff to find these interesting...

1. One of the British officers, who took the surrender of Pádraig Pearse, went on to become a famous Hollywood actor

On Pearse's unconditional surrender, a Major John Lowe (pictured below) escorted him to Kilmainham Jail. Maj Lowe then went on to serve in many other countries, before being taken prisoner by the Germans in 1918. 

When the war ended, Lowe tried his hand at acting in the German film industry. This kickstarted a career path (including a name change to keep his acting career quiet from his disapproving father) which saw John Lowe became John Loder, moving to Hollywood, and becoming a movie star. 

Saturday 1 580X3201

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2. We have the rebels to thank for one of the world’s first-ever radio broadcasts

On Easter Monday, rebel leader Joseph Mary Plunkett sent seven men from the GPO across the road to occupy the Dublin Wireless School of Telegraphy. The school had been closed down, and all of its equipment dismantled, but by Tuesday morning, the rebels managed to get a damaged transmitter working, and they sent out messages in Morse code:

“Irish Republic declared in Dublin today. Irish troops have captured city and are in full possession. Enemy cannot move in city. The whole country rising.”

3. Dublin and London were in different time zones in 1916

From the years 1880 to 1916, Ireland and the UK maintained different time zones. Britain of course followed Greenwich Mean Time, but Ireland followed Dublin Mean Time, which was 25 minutes behind GMT. 

The two merged on October 1, 1916 – however, the Rising began four months earlier on April 24, at approximately noon, Dublin Mean Time. This means that when modern commemorations of 1916 begin at midday outside the GPO, they’re actually 25 minutes early.

4. Two of the rebels were Olympic cyclists

Brothers Michael and John Walker (ironic surnames) had both competed for Ireland on the Olympic cycling team in Stockholm in 1912. 

Their event was the 200-mile road race, which began at two in the morning. As a team, the Irish ranked 11th and, individually, Mick finished 68th and John was in 81st place.

5. The Rising made the front page of The New York Times eight days in a row

The New York Times offered a day-by-day account of the Easter Rising in its May 1 edition, just a week after it began, when reliable communication from Dublin had been re-established. 

Ft5 S Ny Times 1916 April 30

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6. Hostilities were ceased every day so that the ducks in St Stephen's Green could be fed

The occupation of St Stephen’s Green was one of the first acts of the Irish Citizen Army. However, due to the vast number of British Soldiers occupying the Shelbourne Hotel, the rebels’ position became unsustainable, forcing them to take shelter in the College of Surgeons. 

But while gun shots flew overhead, they ceased to do so when the park-keeper, James Kearney, would enter the Green to feed the ducks each day at noon.

7. The proclamation is the only one of its era to mention equal rights

Beginning with the words 'Irishmen and Irishwomen', it proclaimed Ireland’s independence from UK and made several groundbreaking promises at the time.

This includes a commitment to universal suffrage (only practised in a handful of countries at the time, not including Britain), gender equality and that the form of government was to be a republic.

8. There was a great disparity between armies

In the beginning, the British authorities only had 400 troops to about 1,000 Irish rebels when the rising began.

By the Friday, the number of British troops rose to about 19,000 while the Irish Republic groups had only grown to 1,600 fighters.

9. In Dublin, the deadliest battles took place at...

Mount Street bridge.


10. The Rising was originally considered a national shame

The 1916 Easter Rising was considered a betrayal at first by many of the Irish citizenry, with the leaders being spat at on their way to jail. This was partly down to the havoc and destruction it caused in the city – but also because several thousand Irishmen were serving at the front in Europe at the time.

It was only when the executions began (particularly that of James Connolly's, who had to be strapped to a chair to be shot) that the national mood changed.

11. The order to surrender was carried by a woman

Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell, by order of Pearse, was sent to let the British command know that the rebels were prepared to lay down their arms.

Her feet are pictured behind the man on the right in the first photo, along with her face in the second photo.


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12. Women played a key role in the Rising

With a surplus of 200 members of Cumann na mBan, the women’s auxiliary branch of the Irish Volunteers, fought for Irish independence.

Cumann Na M Ban

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13. The Rising was planned by just seven men of the Military Council of the IRB

After the First World War began, the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) decided to stage a rising before the war ended to establish an independent Irish Republic. 

Tom Clarke and Sean Mac Diarmada of the IRB took the responsibility to plan the rising, appointing five other high-ranking members of the Irish Volunteers to a Military Council: Joseph Plunkett, Éamonn Ceannt, Patrick Pearse James Connolly and Thomas MacDonagh.

1916 Patriots Picture 2

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14. The outcome could have been very different...

The German Army didn’t fully support the Rising, but they had agreed to send a large shipment of arms. It was to be delivered on 21 April 1916 but was intercepted by the Royal Navy of the UK, who'd received intelligence that it was happening. 

Due to this incident, the Rising, which was originally planned for Easter Sunday, April 23, 1916, had to be postponed by a day – this meant that not only were the rebels short thousands of weapons and rounds of ammunition, but the confusion resulted in many volunteers missing the Rising on Monday.

15. It is not known whether Countess Markievicz was actually a Countess

Countess Markievicz was originally from the Sligo-based Anglo-Irish Gore-Booth family. She moved to Paris to further her studies she met fellow art student Count Casimir Dunin-Markievicz, a Polish widower whom she ended up marrying. 

There is a long running dispute as to whether he was ever really a count, so much so that Eamon de Valera refused to call her anything else other than Madame Markievicz.

Countess Markievicz

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16. And finally, Eamonn Ceannt was a master uilleann piper

And even played for Pope Pius X.


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READ NEXT: This Infographic From The CSO Shows Just How Different Life Was In 1916


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