Uprising put British rule on notice

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 April, 2006, 12:00am

The 1916 Easter Rising that Michael Mallin helped to lead grew from a rising tide of nationalism that, in a few tumultuous years, brought an end to British rule over most of Ireland.

An underground revolutionary body called the Irish Republican Brotherhood plotted the rebellion while British and Irish troops were fighting the first world war. Controversially, it sought troops and munitions from Germany.

The rebellion nearly fell apart before it began when news leaked and a ship carrying German arms was captured on Good Friday as it headed for the coast of County Kerry.

The rebels mustered 1,000 troops and surprised 400 British soldiers stationed in Dublin on Easter Monday, occupying key buildings and sites around the Irish capital.

Fifteen rebels and 234 British troops died in intense street battles in the week that followed, before 20,000 reinforcements crushed the rising and rounded up the ringleaders.

By the time the executions began in May, 450 people had been killed and 2,614 injured. There were 254 civilian casualties, as most of the fighting was in densely populated city streets.

The legacy of the rebels was mixed. They were condemned for seeking German help while Irish soldiers were fighting the first world war, but their executions and the subsequent end to British rule cemented their place as folk heroes.