The Battle during Easter Week

Discover the main events of the Easter Rising 1916, with locations of the garrisons and biographical details of the leaders.

Outbreak of Rebellion

Following the capture of the German ammunition ship, the Aud, and MacNeill’s countermanding order, Volunteer mobilisation was incomplete and there was little activity outside Dublin.

In Dublin, on 24th April, a force of 1200 Volunteer and Citizen Army members took over the centre of the city. At the GPO, the Proclamation of the Republic was read and an Irish Republic declared, with Pádraig Pearse as President.

The Proclamation was signed by Pearse and six others:

  • Thomas Clarke
  • Seán MacDiarmada
  • James Connolly
  • Thomas MacDonagh
  • Eamonn Ceannt
  • Joseph Plunkett. 

Rebel garrisons were set up at the Four Courts, Boland’s Mills, Jacob’s Factory, the South Dublin Union, the College of Surgeons and other strategic points. However, the insurgents failed to capture Dublin Castle, which was a serious blow to their plans.

Easter Week

The declaration of independence on Easter Monday was followed by five days of fierce street fighting as British forces, aided by artillery brought from Athlone and a gunboat, Helga, on the Liffey, slowly encircled and isolated the various garrisons.

Some of the heaviest fighting took place around Mount Street Bridge as British reinforcements, advancing from Dun Laoghaire, met fierce opposition. Heavy hand-to-hand fighting also took place around the Four Courts and other posts.

The failure of the insurgents to capture Trinity College or Dublin Castle allowed the British to drive a wedge between posts north and south of the Liffey and bring artillery to bear on the GPO. Finally, on Saturday 29th, with the GPO in flames and the city centre in ruins, Pearse gave the order to surrender.

Execution and internment

On 28th April, General Maxwell arrived in Dublin to take control of the British forces. Following surrender, the survivors were rounded up, as were thousands of Volunteers and sympathisers throughout the country. The leaders were promptly court-martialled and over 90 death sentences were passed.

On 3rd May, the executions began when Patrick Pearse, Thomas MacDonagh and Thomas Clarke were shot by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail. Over the next eight days, a further 12 executions were carried out, despite growing protests in Ireland, Britain and America.

Those executed included the seven signatories of the Proclamation, together with Con Colbert, Sean Heuston, Michael Mallin, Michael O’Hanrahan, William Pearse, Sean MacBride, Edward Daly and, in Cork, Thomas Kent.