This is a report I did in my spare time on Padraig Pearse the Irish Rebel and Hero. Please forgive my mistakes.
Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own Padraig Pearse's history (duh), and his last letter belongs to him, sooooo...yea
On the tenth of November, 1879, a legend was born at 27 Great Brunswick Street in Dublin, Ireland. An Englishman called James Pearse and his Irish wife were blessed with a son, who would later become a leading symbol of Irish Freedom. The British man named his son Padraig or Patrick as in English.
James Pearse was a sculptor and a mason. He had stonemasonry which he established in the 1850's, providing a comfortable upbringing for his children.
Padraig was a child surrounded by books and literature. His great-aunt was a fluent Irish speaker, causing Padraig to fall in love with the ancient language of his mother's people.
At the age of 16 years, Padraig joined the Gaelic League, a non-governmental organization which promoted and kept alive the Irish language in Ireland. Pearse later became the most noted editor for the League's newspaper, The Sword of Light. The League's motto, or battle cry was Sinn Fein, which means (Ourselves alone).
Michael Collins' heroes are known to be the rebels of old that surrounded his young life. But in the beginning for Padraig, it was old mythical Irish heroes, like that of Cuhullin. Later, however, it would become those men like Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet who set his grounds for him. Although both men were protestant, they drove the Catholic Pearse's spirit towards the freedom of his country.
In 1900 Pearse was awarded a BA in modern languages, including French, Gaelic and English. He was also awarded the degree of Barrister-at-Law (lawyer) in the same year.
Pearse's strong belief in the fact that a nation is expressed by its language and customs caused him to open up a school for boys, St Enda's in 1908. Its purpose was to keep alive the Irish way of life which England had come to destroy. It was in this school where he met Thomas MacDonagh, who led Pearse into the Volunteers and would later be commemorated for his part in the Easter Rising alongside Pearse.
The school was a thriving success. With the help of MacDonagh and his brother, Willie, Pearse was able to accomplish all he had dreamed in the school. Teaching the boys about their country and language. His idyllic dreams for his school lead him to search for the perfect grounds, which he found in and moved his school in 1910.
But the new spot, set about an 18 century town, was not as financially set as he wished. He strove to keep ahead of his debts and keep his school in good condition. Eventually, the crisis sent him to the USA to raise money. It was there he met and old rebel who supported him fully and raised enough money to keep the school in existence.
In April, 1912 England passed the Home Rule Bill of Ireland, which Pearse was opposed. He threatened the Bitish government with Rebellion openly.
In 1913 he wrote an article called The Coming Revolution.
"As to what your work as an Irish Nationalist is to be, I cannot conjecture; I know what mine is to be, and would have you know yours and buckle yourselves to it. And it may be (nay, it is) that your and mine will lead us to a common meeting-place, and that on a certain day we shall stand together, with many more beside us, ready for a greater adventure than any of us has yet had, a trial and a triumph to be endured and achieved in common."
Later in 1914, a group of the Volunteer leaders wanted to…shall we say…ally with the British, to stay in good terms? Pearse was also opposed to this using past historical events and wrote another article:
"The leaders in Ireland have nearly always left the people at the critical moment; they have sometimes sold them. The former Volunteer movement was abandoned by its leaders; O'Connell recoiled before the cannon at Clontarf; twice the hour of the Irish revolution struck during Young Ireland days and twice it struck in vain, for Meagher hesitated in Waterford, Duffy and McGee hesitated in Dublin. Stephens refused to give the word in '65; he never came in '66 or '67. I do not blame these men; you or I might have done the same. It is a terrible responsibility to be cast on a man, that of bidding the cannon speak and the grapeshot pour."
And the Volunteers split. However most stayed with the Nationalist Volunteers, and Pearse. He wrote a verse on Patriotism:
" It is patriotism that stirs the people. Belgium defending her soil is heroic, and so is Turkey . . . . . It is good for the world that such things should be done. The old heart of the earth needed to be warmed with the red wine of the august homage was never before offered to God as this, the homage of millions of lives given gladly for love of country."
It was in December of 1913 when Padraig Pearse swore alligence to the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood), an organization set for the purpose of overthrowing the British Rule. He was almost instantly set into the IRB's Supreme Counsel by Tom Clarke, a veteran to opposing British Rule. Pearse was one of the many people who were both part of the Volunteers and the IRB. He soon became the Volunteers' Director of Military Organization in 1914, he was the highest ranking Volunteer in the IRB membership by this time, commanding of the remaining members of the Volunteers for the purpose of rebellion. By 1915 he was on the IRB's Military Council, serving only under the brave Tom Clarke.
In August of this year, he warned Britain and the Irish people when he gave a speech by the graveside of a fallen comrade. It ended thus:
"Our foes are strong and wise and wary; but, strong and wise and wary as they are, they cannot undo the miracles of God Who ripens in the hearts of young men the seeds sown by the young men of a former generation. And the seeds sown by the young men of '65 and '67 are coming to their miraculous ripening today. Rulers and Defenders of the Realm had need to be wary if they would guard against such processes. Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but, the fools, the fools, the fools! — They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace!"
The IRB, Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army were eager and willing to fight the foe. Their leaders plotted a rising while war raged on the European front and England had its own troubles and distractions. Pearse was the chosen to be the spokesman of the IRB for the rising, due to his know poetry and skill in language.
It was Pearse who issued the orders for their unites throughout Ireland to stand ready, for Easter Sunday, 1916, was to be the day of defiance. However, when, Eoin MacNeill, the Chief of Staff of the Volunteers, learned of their plans, to continue the rising without the promised help from Germany, he counteracted the orders in the newspapers. He told all arms to stand down and that the rising was cancelled. He is often referred to as a 'coward', not having faith in his countrymen and their burning fire for freedom.
The countermanding of Pearse's orders were taken and held, causing the HQ of the IRB, in Dublin issues. Pearse and the six other leaders argued over whether to cancel the rising, or go through with it. In the end, it was James Connolly, the scot who brought down the decision. He accused them of 'being all talk and no action'. He claimed and threatened that he would go through with it, whether the rest followed or not. Of course, they did.
The Rising took place on Easter Monday April 24, 1916. Pease, at noon, marched his troops down the streets of Dublin, armed with whatever weapons the Volunteers could find. At the steps of the G.P.O. Pearse read aloud the Proclamation of Irish Independence, claiming Ireland for itself and its people.
They fought a bloody and fierce fight, with one goal in mind, freedom. But though they showed bold and strong valor to their cruel foe, the British turned to an alternative way of defeated the rebels. Like a trick the devil himself would play, they began to murder the defenseless citizens of Dublin. Men and freedom longing boys were not the only ones to have their blood stain the streets of Dublin. Women and children were killed at the hands of the brutal British.
After six days of valor, bravery and heroics, Pearse ordered surrender in hopes to save the lives of his men and the citizens of Dublin. Pearse and 14 other men were taken, court-martialed and sentenced to death.
Two days before his death, Pearse wrote a letter and two poems to his mother. And on May 3rd, 1916, Padraig Pearse, the rebel, the poet, the teacher, the quiet and vision filled man, went to his death before the firing squad. No one can say how proud he was to die a soldier's death, fighting for his country.
After his death, the bodies of Pearse and his younger brother Willie, were held by the British and buried, without the presence of their brokenhearted and proud family. Sir John Maxwell, who accepted Pearse's surrender, advised that the bodies not be returned to their family. He claimed:
"Irish sentimentality will turn these graves into martyrs' shrines to which annual processions will be made which would cause constant irritation in this country." But this proved to happen despite the British wishes.
Maxwell also withheld Pearse's last letter and poems from his mother, claiming that they were 'objectable'. She would not receive them until long after his death.
Such ended the life of a noble and patriotic man. His name shall be remembered for his great deeds and sad end at the age of 36. His wish, his fight, though a failure, was not a failure. He planted the seed, a seed that would sprout in the souls of Irishmen and women to follow. They would raise the battle cry; raise the banner of freedom that he could no longer carry. Freedom will come. Such sacrifices will not go unheeded.
His Last Letter to His Mother:
My dear Mother,
You will I know have been longing to hear from me. I do not know how much you have heard since the last note I sent you from the G.P.O.
On Friday evening the Post Office was set on fire and we had to abandon it. We dashed into Moore Street and remained in the houses in Moore St. on Saturday evening? We then found that we were surrounded by troops and that we had practically no food.
We decided in order to prevent further slaughter of the civilian population and in the hope of saving the lives of our followers, to ask the General Commanding the British Forces to discuss terms. He replied that he would receive me only if I surrendered unconditionally and this I did. I was taken to the Headquarters of the British Command in Ireland and there I wrote and signed an order to our men to lay down their arms. All this I did in accordance with the decision of our Provisional Government who were with us in Moore St. My own opinion was in favor of one more desperate sally before opening negotiations, but I yielded to the majority, and I think now the majority was right, as the sally would have resulted only in losing the lives of perhaps 50 or 100 of our men, and we should have had to surrender in the long run as we were without food.
I was brought in here on Saturday evening and later all the men with us in Moore St. were brought here. Those in the other parts of the City have, I understand, been taken to other barracks and prisons. All here are safe and well. Willie and all the St. Enda's boys are here. I have not seen them since Saturday, but I believe they are all well and that they are not now in any danger. Our hope and belief is that the Government will spare the lives of all our followers, but we do not expect that they will spare the lives of the leaders. We are ready to die and we shall die cheerfully and proudly. Personally I do not hope or even desire to live, but I do hope and desire and believe that the lives of all our followers will be saved including the lives dear to you and me (my own excepted) and this will be a great consolation to me when dying.
You must not grieve for all this. We have preserved Ireland's honor and our own. Our deeds of last week are the most splendid in Ireland's history. People will say hard things of us now, but we shall be remembered by posterity and blessed by unborn generations. You too will be blessed because you were my mother.
If you feel you would like to see me, I think you will be allowed to visit me by applying to the Headquarters, Irish Command, near the Park. I shall I hope have another opportunity of writing to you.
Love to W.W., MB., Miss Byrne, . . . and your own dear self. P.
P.S. I understand that the German expedition which I was counting on actually set sail but was defeated by the British.