Ninty Five years ago today, the Proclamation of the Irish Republic (In Irish: Forógra na Poblachta), issued by the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army, was read by Patrick Pearse, at four minutes past noon on Easter Monday, April 24th, 1916, from the steps of the General Post Office in Sackville Street, now known as O’Connell Street, in Dublin.
Pictures courtesy of National Archives of Ireland. (Please Click on image to read in full.)
1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic
IRISHMAN AND IRISHWOMEN: In the name of God and of the dead generations from which she receives her old tradition of nationhood, Ireland, through us, summons her children to her flag and strikes for her freedom.
Having organized and trained her manhood through her secret revolutionary organization, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and through her open military organizations, the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army, having patiently perfected her discipline, having resolutely waited for the right moment to reveal itself, she now seizes that moment, and, supported by her exiled children in America and by gallant allies in Europe, but relying in the first on her own strength, she strikes in full confidence of victory.
We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms. Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State. And we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations.
The Irish Republic is entitled to, and hereby claims, the allegiance of every Irishman and Irish woman. The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities of all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority in the past.
Until our arms have brought the opportune moment for the establishment of a permanent National Government, representative of the whole people of Ireland and elected by the suffrages of all her men and women, the Provision Government, hereby constituted, will administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic in trust for the people.
We place the cause of the Irish Republic under the protection of the Most High God, Whose blessing we invoke upon our arms, and we pray that no one who serves that cause will dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine. In this supreme hour the Irish nation must, by its valour and discipline and by the readiness of its children to sacrifice themselves for the common good, prove itself worthy of the august destiny to which it is called.
Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government,
THOMAS J. CLARKE.
SEAN MAC DIERMADA. THOMAS MACDONAGH.
P.H.PEARSE. EAMONN CEANNT.
JAMES CONNOLLY. JOSEPH PLUNKETT.
All the above seven signatories of the proclamation were executed by the British military, having been found guilty of committing treason in wartime, with one, James Connolly, executed sitting in a chair, the latter wounded in the fighting which had ensued.
British political leaders of the time, British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith and later on Prime Minister David Lloyd George described the executions initially as unwise, and later a catastrophe. Both stated that they regretted allowing the British military to treat the matter under military law in wartime, rather than insisting that those executed be treated under civilian criminal law. Indeed Asquith’s government ordered a halt to the executions, requesting they be dealt with through civilian and not military law, however the directive came to late, all the signatories and a number of others had already been executed.
The leading Irish nationalist newspaper, the Irish Independent, had openly called for their execution and some unsympathetic Dubliners actually spat on those who surrendered, as they were being led away by British forces. However, the execution of the seven signatories soon switched Irish public opinion, due to the manner of their treatment.
The proclamation had been printed in secret before the Rising, using a small printing business. Problems had arose which affected it’s layout and design. There was a shortage of lettering, so the original document was printed in two halves. Most of the ‘half copies’ were destroyed by British soldiers following the Rising. Original copies at large, if they still exist, can be easily identified, since the typesetter lacked a sufficient supply of same size and font letters, and as a result the latter half of the document used smaller ‘es’ than the rest of the text shown. However this can be only detected when the document is studied up close.
Since 2006, this proclamation is read aloud by a member of the Irish Defence Forces, outside the General Post Office during the Easter Rising commemorations, on Easter Sunday of each year.
An original copy of the 1916 Proclamation was sold for over a reported €700,000 sum at an auction in April, 2006.