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The story of the Easter Rising has been told many times and from many different angles: politics, leaders, participants, victims and more. Historical newspapers lend great immediacy to the events. Unfolding in real time without the benefit of hindsight their focus is not exclusively on famous historical figures, they also give us the story of the ‘man in the street’, how he acted and reacted. They add colour and detail often missing from the sweeping narrative of history books.
Naturally, there are hundreds of articles covering the main events, although the press did have a difficult time gaining access to the city. There are significantly more articles from after the Rising than there are during the week of the 24th April 1916. The events are variously described by the British newspapers as ‘rebellion’, ‘revolt’, ‘trouble’ and ‘grave disturbances’. This is something to keep in mind when searching historical sources, our modern name for an event is not necessarily the name our ancestors would have used. In this instance we also need to be aware of newspaper speak which can be used to heighten or downplay events depending on the agenda of the newspaper.
On the day of The Rising itself, there is no news of the Rising which had started at noon. The Nottingham Evening Post reports on Irishmen’s participation in WW1. This is a powerful reminder of the context in which the Rising happened.
Many of the newspapers report on German support for the rising and reveal the very real fear, at the time, that the events of Easter week would see the full horror of the war being waged on the continent being visited on Ireland. In that week Dublin resembled a war-zone: civilians including thirty children were killed, there were food shortages and a total disruption to daily life, large parts of Dublin were razed to the ground. Residents were asked to notify the authorities if they found bodies to help prevent the spread of disease.
Stories and Snippets
Among the hundreds of articles a few stories stand out as capturing how the ordinary ‘joe soap’ dealt with the uprising around them. A bride left at the altar, the role of women, the price of beef and the disorder in the city are all to be found in newspaper stories.
A Dundee newspaper reported on the forgotten role of women in the rising, something which is only recently being addressed by the history books:
Another story makes you wonder what happened to a soldier dispatched to Dublin on the day of his wedding:
This story paints a vivid picture of the opportunistic response of some of the Dublin citizenry to events.
Finally the price of beef became a concern for some.
If you’d like to find more Easter 1916 Rising stories or see if your ancestors were involved, why not delve into the British and Irish newspapers on Findmypast now?
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