On the first day of the Easter Rising, 14th April 1914, a Jewish Volunteer, Mr A Weeks was killed outside the GPO in Dublin on the first day of action. Days before he had been laying the Foundation stone of the Adelaide Road synagogue. This was the first Jewish Irish nationalist who died for the cause though he was far from being the acceptation that proved the rule.
In the main, Dublin and Cork Jews were nationalists and republicans whilst many of Belfast’s Jews were loyalist or pro-British. Notable amongst the revolutionaries were Robert Briscoe, an IRA Captain and the first Jewish member of the Dail Eirann (the Irish Parliament) and Michael Noyk who worked closely with the revolutionary leader Michael Collins. My own great-aunts, Fanny and Molly Goldberg joined the revolutionary Cumann na mBan and did everything but shoot: hiding IRA soldiers, nursing and marching.
…Despite negativity and occasional antisemitism, Irish nationalists such as Parnell were philosemites. His intervention in the Cork dockers strike of the 1880s to take a stand against anti-Jewish sentiments there won over many including my own great-grandfather who would apparently read to his children from the Jewish newspapers, the parashat hashvua and the writings of Parnell every Friday morning. No wonder his daughters joined the uprising.
And Zionism? The dream of self-determination rubbed off on a generation of Irish Jews. In the midst of the chaos, the Dublin Jews convinced the young Rabbi of Belfast, Yitzhak Herzog to come and become the first Irish Chief Rabbi. He turned out to be a rabbi and politician: his experience in Dublin was again put into effect when he became the first Chief Rabbi of Israel. He was not alone in transforming his Irish nationalism to the Zionist cause.
Indeed the Irish supported Zionist causes: they trained and armed Jewish fighters in Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s. True, some supported Revisionist Zionists and others Socialist Zionists but a small community of no more than 4000-5000 that had put itself front of house building an Irish State would boast a future Chief Rabbi, President, one of the founders of the Israeli Air Force and so much more. The Easter Rising was a precursor for the creation of State of Israel: the Irish State a model of what could be.
Patrick Pearse, the rising’s leader, who proclaimed the republic outside the General Post Office, suffered from what Yeats called “the vertigo of self-sacrifice”. He had a homoerotic vision of the macaomh, the beautiful young scholar warrior who would die for his country – half the Irish mythical hero Cuchullain, half Jesus. The night before he was shot by a British firing squad, Pearse wrote a mawkish poem comparing the Virgin Mary’s loss of her son to his own death.
A century later, this distasteful confusion of political fanaticism with faith is even more in fashion, but nowadays in Islam, not Christianity. Among those rebels executed by the British shortly after Pearse was his devoted brother, Willie. In Brussels last week, a pair of brothers, Ibrahim and Khalid al-Bakraoui, detonated two of the three bombs which killed 31 people.
Photoshop competition to win tickets to see White God‘ [acclaimed 2014 Hungarian movie about a dog revolution] at the Light House Cinema, Smithfield, Dublin. Some brilliant entries so far including above.
Lisa Chambers (top) with Eamon Sheridan (centre) and James McCann. Lisa became the first women to take part in the “colour party” at yesterday’s Fianna Fail Easter 1916 Commemoration Ceremony at the Garden of Remembrance, Parnell Square, Arbour Hill, Dublin.
Louisa was a policeman’s daughter turned Gaiety chorus girl and one of the first ever recipients of the Military Medal, presented to her (cough) at Buckingham Palace by (splutter) King George.
Louisa was commended For her valour during the 1916 Rising, when she walked calmly and gracefully through a hail of bullets to tend to wounded soldiers and civilians injured in the Battle of Mount Street Bridge.
Louisa, aged 19 at the time, was lucky; two young girls, and other non-combatant Dubliners, died in the crossfire at Northumberland Road.
This was probably because neither side knew how to shoot.
The British soldiers involved, the Sherwood Foresters, had only arrived at Kingstown [Dun Laoighaire] that morning and some of them even thought they were in France.
The rebels, also with limited military experience, weren’t much better at finding the right target though they did in fairness know what country they were in.
Little more is known of Louisa, who subsequently left the Gaiety for the London stage, but her medal (above) can be seen in the Belfast Museum.
(Pic: New York Times)
Update: a question mark has been added to the headline following a request by Sibling.
I, Ivor Churchill, Baron Wimborne, Lord-Lieutenant- General and General Governor of Ireland, by virtue of all the powers me thereunto enabling DO HEREBY PROCLAIM that from and after the date of this Proclamation, and for the period of One Month thereafter (unless otherwise ordered) the City of Dublin and County of Dublin are under and subject to MARTIAL LAW.
Given that there will be a large number of events in the coming decade to commemorate major historical events between 1912-1922 (it was exactly 96 years ago today that the 1916 Rising began) your readers might be interested in a historyhub.ie podcast series entitled The Irish Revolution.
The Irish Revolution was a module taught by renowned historian Professor Michael Laffan in the School of History and Archives, UCD from the mid-1970’s until his retirement in 2010. The course covers a tumultuous period in Irish history and examines the interaction of different groups (in particular unionists, moderate and radical nationalists, and the British), the causes and impact of events (such as the Home Rule Crisis, the Easter Rising, and the Treaty), and patterns of continuity and discontinuity in the period spanning the First World War. In association with the UCD School of History and Archives and historyhub.ie all 10 of the lectures were recorded.