1916 was the year a few brave Irish men and women rekindled the revolution that had been smoldering for many years before. This rekindling was termed The Easter Rebellion. The rebellion centered in an area of Dublin close to Dublin Castle. In the castle we visited a display to celebrate the centennial of this rebellion.
Dublin castle has had a long history of wars and got intensive remodeling with every change of ownership. There is evidence the Vikings established a fort here in 930. They settled here and controlled access to the rivers, harbor and a good section of the North Sea. The Vikings went inland as well. They raided mostly defenseless monasteries. By 1014 the Irish had had enough of the Viking raids. Irish High King Brian Boru defeated the Vikings near Dublin. However Brian and his son were killed in the battle and the high king position was up for grabs for a while. This conflict was settled when the Normans invaded in 1169 and quickly established their own ruling class. The Normans build most of the castles we saw in Ireland. They had a great invasion/castle construction strategy. Once they grabbed a piece of land they build a temporary castle of sticks changing it to stones in a remarkably short period of time. Though Dublin Castle site has been fortified since 930 work on the castle itself occurred over centuries.
One of the remarkable things about Dublin Castle is its apparent unremarkable location. It not on a steep hill like Edinburgh castle, on a sea cliff like Donnatar castle, or on the edge of the sea like Carrickfergus castle. It does sit on a bit of a rise in a mostly flat Dublin but it looks relatively accessible. Appearances can be misleading. Dublin castle was built between the Liffey and the Poddle rivers. Love those names! The Liffey hasn’t moved too much but the Poddle is nowhere to be seen. This is because a major part of the Poddle river was channeled under the castle! It’s an underground Poddle. Where the Liffey and Poddle met there was once a dark pool called “dubh linn” from whence originated the name of the city.
Ariana and I had been watching Netflix in the evenings and took note of the mini series “Rebellion” that told part of the story of Easter Rebellion of 1916 – a culmination of years of frustration with Great Britain. This week long struggle later inspired the Irish war of independence that occurred from 1919 to 1921. The war was settled with the division of Ireland into the Republic of Ireland as an independent country, and Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K.
At the castle many of the revolutionaries were held then transferred to a prison and executed. There are grim reminders of the Easter Rebellion such as the room where one of the rebellion’s leaders, James Connolly lay severely wounded. He still lived long enough to be executed by firing squad tied to a chair.
The execution of the prisoners apparently had unintended consequences for the British. The people of what was to be the Republic of Ireland shifted their opinion of the rebels from troublemakers to heroes. A full scale revolution did not begin, however, until after WWI. This revolt was avoided likely because the government of Great Britain had promised independence to Ireland in exchange for support in WWI. However, after the war, the British went back on their word. Many Irish who were not convinced by the reprisals following the Easter Rebellion now felt betrayed and were convinced to rebel.
In 1919 a full scale revolution began again in earnest ending with the Anglo Irish Treaty of 1921. This treaty culminated in the establishment of the Republic of Ireland. Most Irish folks in the Republic rejoiced at being free after 700 years of repression. However only part of Ireland achieved independence. Northern Ireland still remained in the UK. Most of the population there still appears to support being part of the U.K. However, now that the UK is withdrawing from the European Union it will be interesting to see what evolves.
I hope any Irish reading this blog will not be offended by inaccuracies on my part. I did not get into more of the differences between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland simply because I found the Irish on the whole to be a very warm and friendly bunch who made little of these differences. Whatever differences there may be or have been seem far outweighed by the strength and spirit of the people. This is one island we would like to see again.