Roger Casement: Born in 1864 in Dublin, Casement was knighted for his services to the British consulate. He campaigned tirelessly to expose the cruelty inflicted on native workers in the Belgian Congo in 1904, and again in Brazil from 1911-1912, causing an international sensation with his reportage. Casement had become a member of the Gaelic League in 1904, beginning at that time to write nationalist articles under the pseudonym ‘Seán Bhean Bhocht’. He retired from the British consular service in 1913, after which he joined the Irish Volunteers. Casement was despatched to Germany on account of his experience to raise an Irish Brigade from Irish prisoners of war. He was captured in Kerry in 1916 on Good Friday having returned to Ireland in a German U-Boat. Casement was imprisoned in Pentonville Gaol in London, where he was tried on charges of High Treason. He was hanged on 3 August 1916, the only leader of the Rising to be executed outside of Ireland.
Con Colbert: Born in 1888, Colbert was a native of Limerick. Prior to the Easter Rising he had been an active member of the republican movement, joining both Fianna Éireann and the Irish Volunteers. A dedicated pioneer, Colbert was known not to drink or smoke. As the captain of F Company of the Fourth Battalion, Colbert was in command at the Marrowbone Lane distillery when it was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916. His execution took place on 8 May 1916.
Edward Daly: Born in Limerick in 1891, Daly’s family had a history of republican activity; his uncle John Daly had taken part in the rebellion of 1867. Edward Daly led the First Battalion during the Rising, which raided the Bridewell and Linenhall Barracks, eventually seizing control of the Four Courts. A close friend of Tom Clarke, their ties were made even stronger by the marriage of Clarke to Daly’s sister. Daly was executed on 4 May 1916.
Seán Heuston: Born in 1891, he was responsible for the organisation of Fianna Éireann in Limerick. Along with Con Colbert, Heuston was involved in the education of the schoolboys at Scoil Éanna, organising drill and musketry exercises. A section of the First Battalion of the Volunteers, under the leadership of Heuston, occupied the Mendicity Institute on south of the Liffey, holding out there for two days. He was executed on 8 May 1916. Heuston Railway station in Dublin is named after him.
Thomas Kent: Born in 1865, Kent was arrested at his home in Castlelyons, Co. Cork following a raid by the Royal Irish Constabulary on 22 April 1916, during which his brother Richard was fatally wounded. It had been his intention to travel to Dublin to participate in the Rising, but when the mobilisation order for the Irish Volunteers was cancelled on Easter Sunday he assumed that the Rising had been postponed, leading him to stay at home. He was executed at Cork Detention Barracks on 9 May 1916 following a court martial. In 1966 the railway station in Cork was renamed Kent Station in his honour.
John MacBride: Born in Mayo in 1865. Although he initially trained as a doctor, MacBride abandoned that profession in favour of work with a chemist. He travelled to America in 1896 to further the aims of the I. R. B., thereafter travelling to South Africa where he raised the Irish Transvaal Brigade during the Second Boer War. MacBride married the Irish nationalist Maude Gonne in 1903. He was not a member of the Irish Volunteers, but upon the beginning of the Rising he offered his services to Thomas MacDonagh, and was at Jacob’s biscuit factory when that post was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916. He was executed on 5 May 1916.
Michael Mallin:A silk weaver by trade, Mallin was born in Dublin in 1874. Along with Countess Markievicz, he commanded a small contingent of the Irish Citizen Army, of which he was Chief of Staff, taking possession of St. Stephen’s Green and the Royal College of Surgeons. He was executed on 8 May 1916.
Michael O’Hanrahan: Born in Wexford in 1877. As a young man, O’Hanrahan showed great promise as a writer, becoming heavily involved in the promotion of the Irish language. He founded the first Carlow branch of the Gaelic League, and published two novels, A Swordsman of the Brigade and When the Norman Came. Like many of the other executed leaders, he joined the Irish Volunteers from their inception, and was second in command to Thomas MacDonagh at Jacob’s biscuit factory during the Rising, although this position was largely usurped by the arrival of John MacBride. His execution took place on 4 May 1916.
William Pearse: Born in 1881 in Dublin. The younger brother of Patrick, William shared his brother’s passion for an independent Ireland. He assisted Patrick in running St. Enda’s. The two brothers were extremely close, and fought alongside each other in the G. P. O. William was executed on 4 May 1916. Pearse railway station on Westland Row in Dublin was re-named in honour of the two brothers in 1966.
The 1916 Rising
Aspirations of the 1916 Rising
The men and women of the 1916 Rising envisaged a new Ireland as a national democracy; an Ireland which, in the words of the Proclamation, ‘guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and [which] declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all of its parts, cherishing all of the children of the nation equally.’ They believed that this could only be achieved through complete independence.
When they seized the General Post Office in Dublin on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, the leaders of the Rising proclaimed a free Irish Republic in which the egalitarian idea was centrally enshrined. The Proclamation, which was first read out by Patrick Pearse on the steps of the GPO just after noon, declared the rights of the people of Ireland to be sovereign. It looked forward to the establishment of a native Government elected on the democratic principles of self-determination and government by consent. The 1916 rising set in train an unstoppable process which led to the separation of Ireland from Great Britain.
The events of 1916 must be viewed against the backdrop of the broader nationalist movement, the convictions of those who opposed any weakening of the link with the Crown and the momentous events being played out on the battlefields of Europe in one of the bloodiest conflicts that the world had ever seen. It should be noted that the continuing threat of conscription brought about by the manpower needs of the war consolidated the growing rift within the popular opinion. The ongoing frustration within Nationalist Ireland at the lack of progress on Home Rule, the prospect that it would not even be for the whole island, reinforced by the refusal of the British War Office to allow the creation of a distinctly Irish Brigade, and its rejection of even an Irish divisional badge, was compounded by the abhorrence of the executions.