British had intelligence to stop Easter Rising, says historian

Trinity College Dublin launches 1916 commemoration events

It was “astonishing” that the Easter Rising was able to take place given the intelligence the British had in relation to its leaders, according to a Trinity College historian.

Professor Eunan O hAlpin, Professor of Modern History at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) said the British had precise details of the "Sinn Féin-German" conspiracy.

“They had that side so well tied down that they thought it [THE RISING)]wouldn’t happen,” he said at the launch of Trinity College Dublin’s 1916 Centenary programme.

“There is a lesson there for the contemporary world in terms of what action should be taken and how information should be shared.”

Trinity College Dublin was at the “epicentre” of the Rising, he stated. Snipers were placed on the roof of the university and British soldiers occupied the campus during Easter Week.

The Irish Convention which followed in 1917, which sought a means to resolve the issue of Home Rule, was held in Trinity.

TCD provost Dr Patrick Prendergast admitted that Trinity was a "bastion of southern unionism" during the Easter Rising. His predecessor in 1916, John Mahaffy, was the man who barred Padraic Pearse from speaking at the College Gaelic Society in 1914. But even he came round to the idea of an Irish parliament in 1917.

The university begins its programmes of events on Monday, December 7th, 2015 with the launch of Trinity in War and Revolution 1912-23 by Dr Tomás Irish. The book tells the story of Trinity both as a witness to and a participant in the period 1912-1923.

Trinity will host an exhibition on the civilian dead of the Rising from January to June 2016.

On March 15th the university will host an academic symposium to mark Proclamation Day.

Trinity's History Society will host a debate featuring past members of the society on the motion 'This House Believes the Rising Should Not Be Celebrated' on February 24th, 2016.

Trinity will reopen its FutureLearn's open online course Irish Lives in War and Revolution 1912-1923, the free online course which ran in 2014 and 2015 with over 29,000 learners taking part to date.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times