Easter Rising

Today, April 24, is the anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916. A terrible idea, the keystone of which was the conspirators barricading themselves in the General Post Office, which rendered them a stationary target with no means of escape. This is why you don’t want literary figures leading military adventures. It was saved from being a complete debacle by the British having the far worse idea of executing the ringleaders and thereby creating sixteen martyrs for the cause of Irish liberty. You can see a version of the end of the Rising at the beginning of Michael Collins, a film worth seeing on other grounds as well.

Two good things came out of the mess. Yeats wrote “Easter 1916,” for me the greatest political poem in the language. And events were set in motion that led to the Irish Free State and, eventually, the Republic of Ireland.

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