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On Easter Monday April 24 1916 a force of Irishmen under arms estimated at between 1000 and 1500 men and women attempted to seize Dublin with the ultimate intention of destroying British rule in Ireland and creating an entirely independent Irish Republic to include all 32 counties of Leinster Munster Ulster and Connaught Their leaders Patrick Pearse James Connolly and the others knew that their chances of success were so slight as to be almost non-existent Yet they fought and died Why The circumstances that led to the Irish rebellion of 1916 very complex historical social political and perhaps above all psychological The Irish writer Sean OFaolain has written of his country Most of our physical embodiments of the past are ruins as most of our songs are songs of lament and defiance The Easter Rising was a complete failure which left large parts of Dublin in ruins yet without it Ireland might never have been free of English rule The leaders alive had very few supporters even among the Irish patriots dead they became and have remained their countrys heroes It was a great historical paradox and one that to this day the British have perhaps never understood Had they understood it it is conceivable that the British might still have an empire since the overthrow of British rule in Ireland marked the beginning of the overthrow of British imperial might in Asia in Africa and elsewhere The historical complexity from the British point of view can be traced to a general misunderstanding of the Irish character and of Irish desires The English were bewildered by the fact that most Irishmen and all educated Irishmen spoke English and wrote it as well as and often better than most Englishmen They were further bewildered by the fact that a very large proportion of the Irish governing class was of English or Norman ancestry In 1916 the English had not grasped the
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