The building of Dublin Castle commenced around the year 1204, and from that day until the end of British rule in Ireland, it served as the stronghold for the English government in Ireland. The Easter Rising was planned during the early stages of World War One, with Irish freedom fighters hoping to gain support from the Germans against their mutual enemy.
Unfortunately for those involved in planning the Rising, a shipment of German arms intended for equipping the Irish rebel forces was intercepted, which greatly reduced the strength of the Irish to take back their homeland by force, yet at the start of the Rising the rebels still outnumbered the British by more than double.
With Britain having already committed the bulk of troops to fighting the war in Europe, the reinforcements sent to bolster the government defenders in Dublin were mostly raw conscripts and not really in a combat-ready state.
What the British lacked in numbers, they made up for in firepower. Their access to artillery and machine guns made a big difference in their ability to defend against the determined and strategically superior rebels. Unfortunately for the local civilian population, the British used these weapons rather indiscriminately, and even more unfortunately many of the locals held the rebels responsible for these deaths.
Britain’s response was swift. The rebels, having enjoyed an advantage of numbers and the element of surprise on the first day, were soon outnumbered themselves. Within the span of a few days, there were almost 20 British troops in Dublin for every Irish rebel. Armed with modern rifles, machine guns and cannons, and with a much larger force, the only real surprise is that the Rising was able to continue for as long as it did.
Dublin Castle, as the symbolic seat of power for the British in Ireland, was a key strategic target for the rebels to take, and this made the area around the castle the primary focus of military action by both sides.
While the Rising which took place here was not a successful military action, it stirred the sentiments of the Irish people, and caused many Irish troops fighting for Britain against the Germans to question why they were doing so, once news of the ruthless massacre of Irish civilians in Dublin filtered through to the front lines of the European conflict.
In consequence, and particularly due to the treatment meted out to the Rising’s leaders who had voluntarily surrendered in the hope of preventing further civilian casualties, the wheels had begun turning and Ireland was inevitably set on its path towards the Irish War of Independence.
While brutal reprisals were nothing new for the British when dealing with Irish uprisings, this time it had happened in an era where people had more access to communications and were able to know what was happening around the country as it happened. It was a mistake that would cost the occupying forces their place in Ireland.
The bitter price for centuries of injustice was about to be demanded in full, and within the next two years, most of Ireland would be liberated from British rule. All of this came about due to the audacious plans of a small group of men led by a school teacher, willing to risk all in a daring raid against one of the world’s greatest military forces. The Easter Rising may have been a short conflict, but its legacy is long, still holding a special place in the memory of the Irish people.