Today in Irish History.
April 24th, 1916 - The Easter Rising - Day One
The pivotal insurrection against British rule begins. The Rising had little chance of success (which its leaders knew after the Rising's weapons of 20,000 rifles were seized two days previously with Roger Casement in Kerry) but it lit a fuse which saw Britain withdraw from twenty-six counties six years later.
Timeline: At noon, Pádraig Pearse reads the Proclamation of the Irish Republic outside the GPO in Dublin to a bemused and some reports suggest amused crowd not realising the importance of his statement. Little more than 1,000 Irish men and women lay in wait against 20,000 British infantry.
Ten minutes previously, a group of volunteers led an unsuccessful attempt to capture Dublin Castle, the HQ of British authority in Ireland. The first casualty of the rising was a policeman on duty at Dublin castle.
Volunteer Helena Moloney stated later “It was at the castle when the first shot was fired. I, with my girls, followed Sean Connolly and his party. We went right up to the Castle gate, up the narrow street. Just then a police sergeant came out, and seeing our determination he thought it was a parade, and that it would probably be going up Ship Street. When Connolly went to go past him, the sergeant put out his arm, and Connolly shot him dead. When the military guard saw it was serious, he pulled the gates”
Buildings seized by the rebels included Boland’s Mills occupied by Eamonn De Valera and Jacobs factory occupied by about 150 volunteers under the command of Thomas McDonagh. As it was a bank holiday, many senior British personnel were enjoying a race day at Fairyhouse race track. In general, the administration was slow to react. The first serious action that took place and probably the first time authorities appreciated the seriousness of events was when a group of mounted Lancers riding towards the GPO were shot at, killing at least three soldiers.
The 1916 Rising had begun.