The 1916 Centenary Miniseries was a project of personal importance to me, as I took up the challenge of explaining to a worldwide audience a critical bit of my country's bitter history, with my own take on the bits you think you know quite well.
It began with a proclamation outside the General Post Office in Dublin City on Easter Monday, and from that point, the violence escalated, as the rebels seized portions of Dublin and the British army were brought in to put the whole thing down. For a country at war with Germany, this attack was seen by most as a stab in the back, and references to German allies fighting abroad didn't help either. As I point out in this series, the Irish people by and large did not want this explosion of violence, what they wanted was peace, and for their boys to return home from the front. While it lasted only a week, the actions of the rebels were roundly condemned, until the British stupidly executed several ringleaders, provoking outbursts of sympathy and anger from the Irish people. These sentiments eventually escalated into a flood all of their own, and the myth of the brave men of the Rising was complete.
By its end, many hundreds were dead, and a legacy of conflict and unwinnable war against Britain was engendered which remains to this day a problematic part of Irish political and historical culture. In this series, I argue against the consensus from several angles, but I also provide what is in my mind the most concise analysis of the revolt available in podcast format. I was immensely happy with the end result, but I was also flattered and humbled by the response, as my listenership showed a real interest and respect for the history of this little island of ours.
Introduction: It's here at last. 100 Years Ago, my ancestors in this country acted in a certain way at a certain time - historians, citizens and politicians [everyone] has been talking about it ever since. This is the intro episode to a little special I have cooked up for just such a centenary. Well you didn't think I'd let the moment escape without one did you? Give it a listen and see what you think - it's certainly different to what you've heard from WDF (and me) in the past, but hopefully it will strike a chord with you, and make you curious to read into the history of events in Ireland 100 years ago, rather than just accept the version of history you have been told. CREDITS: Anna on the flute for the Intro - thanks again my love. MENTIONED: Patrick Cassidy '1916', please check this album out on iTunes etc to discover more music like it. FINALLY: Welcome, to the miniseries.
Prologue: 100 Years Ago on this day, Patrick Pearse read out the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, a document and event which was to have profound consequences for the island of Ireland for the next century. In this episode, experience the atmosphere of that event, and a special vocal history of Ireland up to the point that the Rising took place - from Gladstone's news that he would have to form a government in 1868, to the point that Dublin became the warzone that was the 1916 Rising, where a terrible beauty was born. MUSIC: Credits to Patrick Cassidy 'Mise Eire'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG OR ITS ALBUM.
In our first proper episode, we bring you into Ireland as it was during the 1850s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Up to the point that men like Charles Stewart Parnell were making a real difference, as well as making loads of new groups - thanks for that guys... It's a critical background ep because it introduces you all to key themes and people that will still be knocking around by the endgame of 1916, so I hope you can stick with it! MUSIC: Anna on Flute, playing 'Home Rule' (self-titled) slow air.
In this episode of 1916 we examine the important other pillar of Irish nationalists; the republican or Fenian elements. Expect a great deal of background info as we detail what the aims of these groups were and what drove them onwards. We will meet key characters and bring the story up to the level with #1 where the republicans and nationalists begin to cooperate for the sake of land reform, but Parnell's death creates an exclamation point which they must adapt to. MUSIC: Anna on flute playing 'Republican' (self-titled tune).
In this third episode of 1916, we examine the cultural and linguistic influences that were so critical in shaping and moulding a sense of Irish identity before the Rising took place. We also trace the development of crucial figures like Arthur Griffith, Douglas Hyde It was Hyde who responsible for the title of this episode when he claimed that, following the establishment of the Gaelic League, the GAA and numerous dramatic institutions, Ireland no longer a poor old woman, but a beautiful young maiden, who had not only started to 'move and play, she has begun to sing'. Ireland certainly was singing by the turn of the century, and as its political parties reunified, political nationalism seemed destined for a revival at the same time. Just at this moment though, the Fenians lurked in the background, preparing the next generation of rebels for the next phase in Ireland's history. MUSIC: Anna on flute playing 'Revival', self entitled tune.
In this episode we examine the development of the British politics with the passing of the Parliament Act in 1911, which effectively neutered the influence of the House of Lords by limiting its veto to only two uses. This meant that Home Rule was suddenly more possible than ever before, but standing in the way of this eventuality were the Unionists, emboldened by Sir Edward Carson and determined to voice their dissaproval in a Solemn League and Covenant, and resist HR by force, if necessary. Thus began the North's militarisation of Irish life before 1914, and thus began the critical step towards imminent civil war... As prominent Irish scholar and nationalist Eoin MacNeill wrote, 'The North Began'.
Welcome back to ep. 5. In this episode we will examine the relations between nationalists and unionists, and the extent to which the breakdown in civil talks affected their control over their respected armed camps of the UVF and IVF. Then, we'll introduce you to an important character of the Rising - Patrick Pearse, and give you some background info that should set us up well for future episodes. MUSIC: Anna on flute playing 'March Stress', self-titled tune.
In this episode we examine the world's descent into the First World War and how it impacted the escalation in tensions between the nationalists and unionists, who by 1914 had received large illegal shipments of guns. Now armed, both sides looked to the passing of the Home Rule Bill, since the House of Lords could no longer veto the Bill. The war forced both sides to look to events other than those occurring in their ruddy island, and with this new focus came decision time for the nationalists, led by John Redmond. Redmond's decision to call for Irish support of the war is examined here in the context of the time that it was made. Redmond's expectations and hopes for what Britain would grant to Ireland after the war revealed his motives, but his stance cost the unity of nationalists at home, as the Irish Volunteers split, and the group that elected to remain neutral set themselves on a path which for some would lead to the 1916 rising.
In this episode, we look at the beliefs and passions of men like Patrick Pearse, Tom Clarke and James Connolly, as well as set the scene for the radicalisation of Pearse following his return home from the United States. We unwrap the structure of the IRB, and detail how a minority came to take over the group and control it with radicals. It's a critical building block for what's to come in the series, so I hope you'll check it out and enjoy it! MUSIC: 'Absent Friends' by Anna on the flute, self titled theme. 'Padraig Pearse', full credits to Patrick Cassidy, and the album 1916. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG OR ALBUM.
Welcome to ep. 8! Herein we'll take a good look at the people behind the rising and weigh in on their beliefs. Did Patrick Pearse really see himself as a messianic like figure? Did other moderates within the group want to die? What did they seek to aim by sacrificing their lives? We also delve into the structure of the IRB a little more, and detail how a small fringe group within the larger organisation managed to hijack and control it. Give it a listen! Thankssss! MUSIC: Anna on flute playing 'Excecution MacDonagh's Air' (self-titled tune).
In this episode we detail the final hurdles that almost prevented the rising from going ahead, only for the Military Council to surge on regardless, dooming the rising's limited chances of success to a fool's errand, and committing all that took part to certain failure. Some within the organisations that took part would have told you though, it was not military success that mattered, so much as an action in the first place. If the British reacted afterwards, then the next chapter would be written in their favour. Little thought was given to the men fighting in Europe in the name of the Empire and Home Rule - they would learn of the rising with disbelief and horror, but these emotions would soon be replaced with rage, a rage that was the majority opinion of those Irish that hated the rebels and all they stood for. While it did not seem as though the eventuality that the rebel leaders fought for would ever come to pass, they recognised that this was merely early days - this was the first element of their plan to awaken Ireland and inspire its generations: an inspiration which was born on the steps of the General Post Office on 24th April 1916. MUSIC: 'Easter Monday' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS ALBUM OR SONG.
In this episode we bring you a different angle on the whole situation. We take a step back from straight up coverage to take you down a different path, where you must use your imagination to picture a very different world than the one we have today. Hopefully by doing this, you'll be set up to listen to my spiel on the moral aspects of the 1916 Rising, and why I remain convinced today that it just isn't justified. Let me know what you guys thought, as always. Thankssss! MUSIC: 'The Irish Volunteers' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG OR ALBUM.
We're back again! Episode 11 returns to the narrative of the 1916 rising and examines its early running battles. We also tell you the story of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (whose name is really hard to say at times). Between these anecdotes, the beginning of shelling of the rebel positions by a thoroughly brutalised British response and the spreading of fires, a strong figure was needed on the British side to wrap the whole thing up, and delicately deal with what had just occurred. Instead, we got Sir John Maxwell. MUSIC: 'Insurrection' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG
In ep 12 we continue our coverage of the rising's military events, as the city of Dublin and the island of Ireland take our attentions. The 'price of defiance' was paid not just by the rebels, but by average civilians such as those living in North King Street during the rising, or by the relatives of the Kent family in Cork, or by average citizens all across Ireland, in Dublin or elsewhere. The price was high, but to the rebel leadership their finest hour was dawning. MUSIC: '1916 Theme' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG.
In ep 13 we look at what happened once the rebels officially handed over their weapons and placed themselves in the custody of the totally overwhelmed and unprepared British, who responded in various blankety ways. Some rebels looked at the surrender in grave terms - wishing they had done more or fought for longer. Others saw the surrender as merely the beginning of their plan to awaken Ireland from its slumber and continue on the fight as a whole. MUSIC: 'The Four Courts' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG/ALBUM.
The world was a strange place in 1916. In this episode, we'll do some more contextualising (don't sigh at me like that) by examining an unlikely mirror image of Patrick Pearse in the thoroughly nationalist France of 1914. Additionally, we'll examine in closer detail the beliefs of the rebels on their deathbeds, and what they expected to come after their sacrifice. We also take a look at how the reporting of events during the war changed after the rising, something which adds to the idea that the rising was an avenue of the First World War which went on to have such dramatic consequences for Ireland and the wider world. MUSIC: 'The O'Rahilly' by Patrick Cassidy, from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG OR ALBUM
In this episode we bid farewell to our protagonists, many of whom we've followed from their early days. The British act of executing the 15 rebels, who varied from leaders to random captains, would ingrain a sense of injustice in the Irish people at the whole proceedings, and would also fulfill the prophecy of men like Pearse, who had believed in the power and necessity of sacrifice to awaken Ireland. Within this episode we'll also see the Irish MPs in Westminster like John Redmond, John Dillon and even Edward Carson weigh in on the debate, as how to best proceed and what not to do is debated, and the British administration appear helpless to penetrate the control of Sir John Maxwell, the military governor they had appointed to rule Ireland under a system of martial law. The results would be profound. MUSIC: 'Poblacht na hEireann' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG
In our final episode (and also our longest!) we examine the complex series of events which led Ireland to exterminate its Irish Parliamentary Party in the 1918 General Election, to replace it with the Sinn Fein Party - the political arm of the 1916 Rising, and the vehicle through which revolutionary violence would dominate Ireland for the next few decades. It is a winding listen, tying together a number of issues as well as posing a series of controversial, challenging questions to you guys, so I hope you all enjoy it, and let me know what you think! MUSIC: 'The Mother' & 'James Connolly' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG/ALBUM.
Epilogue: Covering a list of issues far too long to list off here, the epilogue is where we examine where our story goes next. WB Yeats, all the usual martyrs and retrospective ingredients make this a must listen. Ideally it should explain why I hold the views I do, because of the journey Irish history went on and the contradictions such a journey provides for the current narrative, which states that 1916 was the birth of independent Ireland as we know it today. MUSIC: 'Execution - McDonagh's Air' self titled tune by Anna on flute. 'The O'Rahilly', '1916 Theme', 'The Leaders Will Be Court Martialled' & 'Mise Eire II' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG/ALBUM.
Conclusion: It's time to say good bye, as we wrap up the era and conclude on all of its issues, themes and lessons in a style that you hopefully appreciate, with a body of work that you have hopefully enjoyed. Please let me know what you thought, and please visit the blog as I suggested wdfpodcast.blogspot.ie if you want even more of 1916! MUSIC: 'The Leaders Will Be Court Martialled', '1916 Theme', 'Surrender' & 'GPO Dublin' by Patrick Cassidy from the album '1916'; "Tragedy" "Marching" & "March Stress" by Anna on flute also included. I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THESE SONGS OR ALBUMS. Thanks again for all the support and encouragement history friends, and I'll see you all soon.