Information released by the Military Pensions Archive finally reveals, nearly 100 years on, how many fought in the 1916 Easter Rising.
The records show that 2,558 were involved on the rebel side. This figure is the total sum of those who applied for a pension, an allowance or a Rising medal.
An original figure of 2,497 was initially released by the Department of Defence, but this was increased by 61 following the digitalization of the archives.
These archives also answer a question that has been asked for generations. How many were in the GPO, on O’Connell Street, during Easter Week? The answer is 508.
Was a relative of yours “out” in the 1916 Easter Rising? Check the Military Pensions Archive here.
Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said this release is a “very significant milestone in our understanding and historical appreciation of the identity of the men and women, from many different backgrounds, who lit the spark at Easter 1916 which a short time later led to the formation of a resurgent revolutionary movement that ultimately led to the War of Independence.”
Senior Military Archivist, Pat Brennan, told the Irish Times, “We’re pretty sure this is the definitive figure.”
Cathal Brugha is the only known absentee. He was second in command at the South Dublin Union, under Commandant Éamonn Ceannt. Brugha was later killed on the anti-treaty side during the civil war. No one from his family ever claimed his pension, allowance or medal. The Military Pensions Archive is housed in the barracks named after him, in Dublin.
What the new digitized records show, according to Brennan, is that the Easter Rising was a more national affair than people realize. The new records are released with a map that shows the bombing of railway lines at Maganey, near Portlaoise.
Brennan said, “Everybody is concentrating on Dublin. You get couriers, women mostly, who show up in Waterford and Cork on their travels during Easter Week giving the word that the Rising order has been countermanded.”
The news list will be used to identify those relatives who wish to be involved in the parades and gatherings surrounding the Easter Rising Centenary commemoration in 2016. Also, relatives of those who believe a family member has been omitted from the list have until September 2015 to inform the Department of Defence if they wish to be eligible for inclusion.
The project was initiated by the Department of the Taoiseach and is a joint Department of Defence and Defence Forces contribution to the Decade of Centenaries. The project is mandated to release the files and records in the keeping of the Department of Defence dealing with the service of members of the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizen Army, the Hibernian Rifles, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann and the Irish Republican Army respectively from the period April and May 1916 to the 30th September 1923. The listing comprises veterans of the organizations operating at the time and with recognized military service during the Easter Rising.
Here’s a video that gives an overview of the Military Pension Archives: