Today in Irish History - 3rd May 1916
First of the 1916 rebels are executed. Pádraig Pearse, Tom Clarke & Thomas MacDonagh are shot at dawn. A total of 90 rebels were condemned to death. All but 15 were commuted to lengthy prison terms. Some who died were unlucky. Pádraig Pearse’s brother Willie seems to have been executed simply because of their relationship. US citizen Eamon De Valera escaped death because British authorities were fearful of American reaction.
The executions were a watershed in Irish attitude to British rule. The majority of the Irish population grudgingly accepted British rule and believed the Rising was an absurd venture. From a pure military viewpoint they were right. However, the execution of its leaders created a raft of martyrs that energised Irish nationalism.
“The right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland” which Pádraig Pearse read from the Proclamation in front of the GPO on April 24 became part of peoples consciousness and led to the War of Independence.