The Context and Development of Irish Literature:
History, Poetry, Landscape

Chapter Four:  From Home Rule to Civil War:  Ireland in the Early 20th Century, page three

Yet even among the Nationalists, there was division. The older leaders felt that gradual parliamentary rulings would bring about some sort of Home Rule for Ireland, probably in a kind of commonwealth relationship to England, similar to that of Canada. But the younger members, remembering with bitterness the fall of Parnell and distrusting political policy, demanded a full split from England. This group, termed Separatists, saw England’s engagement in World War I as their best opportunity for seizing power and forcing England to release its hold on Ireland. These younger members determined that a bold and dramatic armed uprising would mobilize the population and perhaps lead to an overthrow of British rule.

Leaders of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, as well as leaders of the Irish Volunteers, combined with James Connolly's Irish Citizen Army (a militia set up in 1913 to protect striking workers during the major strike and lockout that year), to formulate a daring plan.  They would stage armed attacks in Dublin and other key areas throughout the countryside on Easter Sunday morning of 1916.  Their hope was that the Irish citizens would flock to their banner, and additional uprisings would occur almost spontaneously.  But a crucial shipment of arms, being carried from Germany to the Kerry coast by Sir Roger Casement, was lost, and the Volunteers' leader, Eoin MacNeill, backed out at the last moment, canceling all Volunteer activity for the day of the planned rising.  Nevertheless, the IRB leaders determined to go through with their plan.

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