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Sites of 1916: The Rising in the Provinces - a failure to rise?
Irish Republic flag that flew over the GPO during the Easter Rising. Photo: National Museum of Ireland

Sites of 1916: The Rising in the Provinces - a failure to rise?

by Dr John Gibney

The Easter Rising was largely confined to Dublin. To understand why that was the case, we have to try and understand what was actually supposed to have taken place at Easter 1916.

The motives and objectives of those who planned the Rising remain disputed: due to the secrecy in which it was planned, no definite 'plan' survives. An over-emphasis on notions of 'blood sacrifice', in which the Rising is interpreted as a spiritual or metaphysical struggle in which victory did not matter, is a convenient way of getting around the fact that the Rising was defeated.

It also causes us to overlook the preparations that were conducted prior to the Rising, such as the attempt to smuggle arms into Ireland. There also seems to have been a plan for a bigger uprising outside Dublin, though this depended on the arrival of weapons from Germany (and the mere existence of a plan does not make such a plan automatically fool-proof). The Rising that broke out, however, did so without the numbers that its leaders had hoped to muster or the weapons that they had hoped to equip them with. In that sense the Easter Rising was a desperate gesture, and was not necessarily the Rising that the leaders may have intended to bring about.

Dr John Gibney discusses the reason why the rest of Ireland, did not rise up in when the insurrection began in Dublin.

Read Dr John Gibney's 'What if the guns had landed?' for a more indepth look at what might have happened had the Rising gone to plan.


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.