Today, April 24th, is the 97th anniversary of the Easter Rising, which took place in Dublin in 1916. The uprising began on Easter Monday, after members of the Irish Volunteers, Irish Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan seized key locations in Dublin – most notably the iconic General Post Office building on O’Connell Street – and proclaimed the independence of the Irish Republic.
The rebellion, whilst firmly rooted in the Irish tradition of the grand political gesture and blood sacrifice, was ground-breaking in other ways. Notably, the Easter Proclamation, written by the underground Provisional Government, called upon ‘Irishmen and Irishwomen‘ – at the time an advanced notion of equality, simply by virtue of the explicit distinction, rather than the subsuming of ‘women’ into the catch-all of ‘men’.
Most importantly, the legacy of the Easter Rising, more than any other generation’s failed rebellion, has endured. Easter 1916 elicited a particularly brutal and strung-out reaction from the British government, who carried out the executions of the Rising’s organisers in such a way (the socialist James Connolly was shot tied to a chair, as he was unable to face the firing squad on his feet) that public opinion soon shifted in favour of the rebels. The war of independence that followed resulted in a military stalemate and a negotiated treaty for a limited Irish Independence in 1922.
To celebrate the 97th anniversary of the Easter Rising, we’ve compiled a list of some of our best books on Ireland. See below the proclamation for details.
Republican Prisoners and the Irish Language in the North of Ireland
Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh. Foreword by Philip Scraton
Explores a key period in Irish history through the original and ‘insider’ accounts of key protagonists in the contemporary Irish language revival.
“The most comprehensive and accessible account of the relationship between the Irish language and the Long War in the Six Counties. Essential reading for anyone interested in the dynamics of political and cultural revival in a revolutionary context. Mac Ionnrachtaigh makes skilful and extensive use of interviews with many of the principal actors to document this phenomenon with great authenticity.” – Dr. Ruan O’Donnell, Lecturer in History at University of Limerick and author of Special Category: The IRA in English Prisons (2011)
“This fascinating new study examines an essential part of the story of language revival and political conflict in Ireland. The interviews and analysis undertaken by the author promise to be of great interest to a wide readership.” – Dr Fionntán De Brún, Head of Irish Language and Literature in University of Ulster
The Frustrated Promise of Political Loyalism
Unique in-depth investigation into working-class Loyalism in Northern Ireland as represented by the UVF and RHC and their political allies.
“A significant contribution. Novosel exposes the limitation of commonly held views that loyalism was apolitical and merely sectarian.” – Professor Peter Shirlow, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast
“Novosel’s study of the UVF and its attempts to develop a politicised loyalism challenges the standard one-dimensional representation of loyalism that so dominates the media and popular imagination.” – Graham Spencer, author of The State of Loyalism in Northern Ireland
A History of Uneven Development
Examines Ireland’s development from the medieval to the modern era, comparing its unique trajectory with that of England, Scotland and Wales.
“The scope of the work is original…a complex interaction between political theory, Irish history, theology, sociology and anthropology.” – Senior Lecturer in European Studies, Queen’s University Belfast
Counter Insurgency, Government Deviance and Northern Ireland
Documents in chilling detail how the British government turned to violent and illegal measures in its fight against Irish Republicanism.
“State Violence, Collusion and the Troubles brings to bear a mature, discerning and knowledgeable mind on a vexed area and the results are disquieting, fascinating and provocative.” – Paul Rock, Professor of Social Institutions, Mannheim Centre for the Study of Criminology and Criminal Justice, London School of Economics and Political Science
“A very insightful and close examination of what Britain did in Northern Ireland used to understand what states do elsewhere when dealing with insurgent violence. Punch has been exhaustive in his research and even-handed on a fraught topic. My earnest hope is that the book will be read by a wide audience.” – David Bayley, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, University at Albany, State University of New York
From Insurrection to Parliament
Analyses the Provisional IRA’s formation, development, and prospects for the future.
“Tommy McKearney’s story is one of those ‘must read’ books for anyone interested either in the struggle within Northern Ireland itself or in the overall relationship between England and Ireland.” – Tim Pat Coogan, former editor of the Irish Press and author of The I.R.A. (1970; 2000).
“If we had to choose one person who served in the ranks of the IRA to contextualize the organization’s development from revolution to reform it would be Tommy McKearney. A seasoned volunteer with considerable military and political experience McKearney knows his subject matter. In terms of both left-wing politics and IRA activism he has walked the walk. Now he explains to a wider audience the dynamics behind the IRA and in the process gives the reader a new intellectual window through which the IRA campaign can be reappraised. Any student of the IRA who does not have this book in their library will find their comprehension diminished.” – Anthony McIntyre, former IRA volunteer and ex-prisoner
Eoin Ó Broin
Analyses the growing political influence of Sinn Féin and its place in the globally resurgent democratic left.
“An intelligent, readable and very fascinating reflection on left republicanism in Ireland” – Richard English, Professor of Politics, Queens University Belfast, author of Armed Struggle and Irish Freedom
“Full of information and analysis yet extremely easy to read, Eoin O’Broin poses the question that has occupied the minds of many down through decades of struggle – not just how best to establish the ‘republic’ but what that republic will look like?” – Dr Laurence McKeown, writer, playright and former IRA political prisoner
Nothing But an Unfinished Song
Published on the 25th anniversary of Sand’s death, this powerful biography illuminates his life and political impact.
“The life of a truly remarkable young man: Bobby Sands … how he grew from a plucky lad into a deeply committed, sensitive, anti-imperialist revolutionary, and how he, in turn, transformed the Nationalist Movement into a deeper, broader one. … The life of Bobby Sands shows development, growth, maturation, and a profoundly humanistic internationalist flavor, in the midst of a bitter, ugly struggle that can purge the humanity out of anyone. The work also presents us with a picture not merely of the armed combatant, but of his love of music, and stories, and how he used these gifts to lift the spirits of his mates in the darkest of days. Nothing But An Unfinished Song is the story of how Irish nationalists battled British occupation, sectarian violence, and broken spirits. It has a message that will find interest everywhere.” – Mumia Abu-Jamal
“Denis O’Hearn in his gripping, heart stopping, exhilarating sometimes sad book, Bobby Sands, tells an extraordinary story of life, love and noble death…A grand and inspiring book by a grand and inspiring writer.” – Malachy McCourt