British Empire
The end of the British empire - Ireland
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Film showing the centre of Dublin after the Easter Rising, 1916
(By permission of the Imperial War Museum, London)
  • This film was shot in 1916, soon after the rebellion of April 1916. During the fighting the centre of Dublin was wrecked.
  • When the Great War broke out in 1914 the Nationalist leader John Redmond urged Irish Volunteers to join the British army. Thousands did, but many Nationalists felt that Redmond was wrong to encourage Irishmen to join a British army.
  • Redmond represented a moderate constitutional strand of Irish Nationalism. As the war went on, the more extreme strand of Nationalism became stronger in Ireland. The extreme Nationalists were Republicans. This meant that they wanted total independence for Ireland - not Home Rule or Dominion status or any continued association with the British empire.
  • The Republicans had their own underground secret service called the Irish Republican Brotherhood. They also had their own political party called Sinn Fein.
  • In April 1916, during Easter Week, Republicans took over the centre of Dublin. They took the British forces completely by surprise. It took a week of fighting to get them to surrender. The centre of the city was wrecked and many civilians were killed or injured in the fighting.
  • Opinion about this Rising was deeply divided. Many British people felt it was a betrayal because at the time Britain was fighting against Germany. However, many Irish Nationalists felt the British were using the war as an excuse not to give Ireland Home Rule. They felt the Rising was justified.
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