The Easter Rising was an uprising in Dublin on Easter Monday, April
24, 1916, organised by the Irish Republican Brotherhood and manned
with troops from the Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army
militia groups. The rising was doomed to failure, in part because
of limited support from the Irish people. The subsequent execution
of 15 leaders, however, and the threat of forced conscription in
Ireland in 1918 during the final stages of World War I, set the
stage for Sinn Féin to replace the Irish Parliamentary Party
as the dominant political party in Ireland.
Founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith and Bulmer Hobson, Sinn Féin
called for Ireland to become a republic independent of the United
Kingdom, and for an end to the partition movement among Protestants
in the north. In the general election in November 1918, Sinn Féin
candidates won 73 of the 105 seats allotted to Ireland in the United
In January 1919 the elected Sinn Féin members abstained
from the British parliament and instead convened a national assembly
in Dublin, called Dáil Éireann.
They proclaimed Ireland's independence and formed a government,
with Eamon De Valera, the only surviving commandant of the 1916
rising, later elected president. There followed guerrilla attacks
by the Irish Volunteers, reorganised by Michael Collins and increasingly
called the Irish Republican Army (IRA), on government forces throughout
the year, escalating in early 1920 with an ambitious raid on a police
barracks in Carraigtwohill, County Cork.
The British government responded by deploying two new forces, the
Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries, to reinforce the Royal Irish
Constabulary (RUC). The events of November 21, 1920, known as Bloody
Sunday, when 13 men who were mostly British intelligence agents
were killed by IRA activists, and Auxiliaries later opened fire
on a crowd at a Gaelic football match in Dublin killing 12 people,
marked another sharp escalation in the levels of violence and reprisals.