Coming to terms with the 1916 Rising


Sir, – Patsy McGarry’s “Pádraig Pearse’s overtly Catholic Rising was immoral and anti-democratic” (Rite & Reason, January 5th) is another interesting addition to the revisionism that is at play as we move into the year of commemoration of the 1916 Rising.

In countless places throughout the world and throughout history, people have stood up to tyranny and subjugation. Was everyone brave enough every time? No. But it didn’t take everyone.

What was required was a few who would lead, and in leading, place the value of their own lives below that of a greater goal that was the freedom of those around them and of the generations who would follow them.

Giving up one’s life for others takes a level of courage and sense of sacrifice that few people truly possess. Describing their actions as immoral or even anti-democratic is easy but hardly sustained by the facts and the lived experience of those of the time. The brave are usually in a minority.

To level the charge of being “overtly Catholic” strikes me as strange. The Ireland of 1916 was overtly Catholic. Whether that is a positive or otherwise can be debated, but it is no more than a fact of history. It is akin to stating that Gandhi’s actions were overtly Hindu, or that Menachem Begin was overtly Jewish in his actions as leader of Irgun.

However, to extend this thought to a suggestion that the timing of the Rising for Easter was linked to the Christian celebrations of the Resurrection and that “marking the event at Easter is to concede to the quasi-blasphemous religious stance of Pearse and his colleagues” is simply ridiculous.

I, for one, am grateful for the collective courage of those who, in 1916, decided to stand up and say, “no more”. And while the Ireland of today is very far from perfect, I am glad that they did what they did. – Yours, etc,


Bunbrosna, Co Westmeath.

Sir, – Finally some balance and sense in the 1916 “debate” from Patsy McGarry. Expect the ire of many readers to follow! – Yours, etc,


Ranelagh, Dublin 6.

A chara, – Having had two years of near idolatry of those who served in the British army in the first World War, it was probably too much to hope that we could at least get through the first week of 2016 before the attacks on the leaders of the Rising were launched. Patsy McGarry charges them with immorality and blasphemy, which is rather odd as I seem to recall him only a few months back arguing that the law on blasphemy should be abolished. Are there some sins only Catholic rebels are capable of?

What next? Editorials calling for the execution of the rebels? Oh wait ... – Is mise,



Co Cork.

Sir, – Una Mullally’s “Embrace your Irishness and celebrate 1916” (Opinion & Analysis, January 4th) seems to suggest, ahistorically and despite the clear expressions of faith in the Proclamation (“In the name of God”), that the “big idea” of the 1916 leaders was not alone to establish an independent republic but to establish a secular independent republic – and that this aim was later thwarted by McQuaid and de Valera through the 1937 Constitution. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 8.

Sir, – Una Mullally, in her otherwise excellent piece writes, “Our great writers of the English language are strangely absent from our school curriculum, as we defer instead to British ones.”

When I did my Leaving Cert, all of 1½ years ago, we studied WB Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Kinsella, Derek Mahon and John B Keane. Indeed the only English writers we studied were Philip Larkin and William Shakespeare. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 9.

Sir, – Una Mullally’s “Embrace your Irishness and celebrate 1916” misrepresents the leaders of the Easter Rising as Ireland’s political leaders. In fact, the leaders of the Rising were neither politicians nor national leaders. Ireland’s political leaders were the MPs of the Irish Parliamentary Party. The Rising leaders were members of revolutionary and violent organisations such as the Irish Republican Brotherhood. – Yours, etc,