Welcome to our archive of key writings on republicanism and national liberation by Irish revolutionaries including Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, James Fintan Lalor, Robert Emmet, and Wolfe Tone. Here you will find some of the most important documents in Irish history.
 
1916-1921: The Easter Rising and the First Dáil

The Proclamation of the Republic issued by the rebels of Easter 1916, and the Democratic Programme adopted by the First Dail in January 1919 remain pivotal documents for modern republicanism. Also included here is the Manifesto on the basis of which Sinn Féin won its landslide election victory in 1918.

Patrick Pearse

Patrick Pearse began his career as an Irish language activist and educationalist. However, the reluctance of the London government to implement the promised measure of Home Rule for Ireland in the face of unionist resistence pushed him towards a more militant nationalism. 
He was a founding member of the Irish Volunteers in 1913, and joined the underground Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in 1914. Within a year he was a member of the organisation's Military Council.

"How Does She Stand" is a collection of three speeches delivered by Pearse in 1913 and 1914. Commemorating republican heroes of the past, they are a call to arms addressed to Pearse's own contemporaries:


Written in the same period, "The Coming Revolution" marks a decisive step in Pearse's transition from immersion in the cultural work of the language revival and the Gaelic League to an openly revolutionary republicanism.

In 1915, Pearse delivered his famous Oration at the Grave of O'Donovan Rossa at the funeral of the veteran Fenian. It ended with the memorable words: "The fools, the fools, the fools! They have left us our Fenian dead; and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace".

By this time, the Military Council of the IRB was making preparations for a Rising. In the months leading up to Easter 1916, Pearse wrote a series of four pamphlets; Ghosts, The Separatist Idea, The Spiritual Nation, and The Sovereign People. The pamphlets stress the continuity of the republican tradition and outline the nature of Ireland's demand for freedom. Pearse also wrote poetry, including Renunciation, The Fool, and The Rebel.

It was Pearse who authored the 1916 Proclamation, and he was nominated as both President of the Provisional Government and Commandant-General of the republican forces by the rebels. Following the defeat of the rebellion, Pearse was brought before a British Court Martial, condemned to death, and executed by firing squad. At the court martial, he gave a speech outlining his motives and claiming that the Rising had been a success as it had re-awakened Irish national consciousness.
 
James Connolly

Although he left school at 11, James Connolly became one of the leading Marxist theorists of his day. He was the founder of the Irish Socialist Republican Party and, alongside James Larkin, the driving force of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union. In response to the 1913 lock-out, Connolly helped form the Irish Citizens Army to protect workers from the brutality of the Dublin Metropolitan Police. The Citizen Army soon committed itself to the establishment of an Irish socialist republic, and joined the Irish Volunteers in the 1916 Rising.

Connolly's Labour In Irish History is reproduced here in full, along with the Foreword and First Chapter to his book The Re-Conquest of Ireland. Below are a selection of his articles which give his views on:

Connolly's Last Statement was handed by him to his daughter Nora on the eve of his execution.

 
John Mitchel

John Mitchel was born in 1815 near Dungiven in County Derry. He was a member of the Young Ireland group and a regular contributor to The Nation. He reacted with fury to English policy in Ireland during the famine, and resigned from The Nation on the grounds that the policy of Young Ireland was not vigorous enough.  Mitchel then founded his own paper, The United Irishman. In its pages he called on the people to refuse to pay rent and to forcibly prevent the export of food, and justified a policy of armed insurrection.


After only sixteen editions, The United Irishman was suppressed and Mitchel arrested. He was convicted of treason felony and sentenced to be transported for fourteen years. While in captivity he wrote his Jail Journal. In 1853 he escaped from Van Diemen’s Land and settled in the United States, where he spent most of the remainder of his life.

  James Fintan Lalor

James Fintan Lalor was born in 1807 in County Laois. At first a supporter of Daniel O’Connell, he broke with him over his alliance with the English Whig Party and his reluctance to urge Irish tenant farmers to refuse payment of rent and tithes. Against the backdrop of the Great Hunger, Lalor wrote a series of articles in The Nation in 1847 arguing that Ireland needed full independence, not just Repeal of the Union, and that Irish nationalists should be ready to resort to physical force if necessary. The following year he founded his own newspaper, The Felon. In this paper appeared his most influential writings, "The Rights of Ireland", "Clearing The Decks", and "The Faith of A Felon".

Lalor was imprisoned as a result of the Young Irelanders’ failed rebellion in 1848, but released six months later on the grounds of ill-health. He immediately tried to organise another rebellion in Counties Tipperary and Waterford, leading an attack on the RIC barracks in Cappoquin. Arrested again, Lalor died in December 1848 and was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery.

 
Thomas Davis

Thomas Davis was born at Mallow in Co. Cork in 1814. He was the leader of the Young Ireland group which left O’Connell’s Repeal Movement over its focus on narrowly Catholic concerns and its refusal to consider using physical force as a means to achieve Irish Independence. In 1848 he co-founded The Nation newspaper, dedicated to reviving Irish national consciousness.
Davis’ articles in the paper popularised the study of Irish history, poetry, language, music and art at a time when the dominant colonial mindset looked on them as inferior to those of England. He argued for the revival of the Irish language, declaring that “A people without a language is only half a nation”, and was passionately anti-sectarian. The Nation was read by 250,000 people, and had the largest circulation of any newspaper in Ireland at the time. A selection of Davis' articles appears below:

Davis also wrote nationalist poetry which stirred popular feeling. His most popular pieces include "A Nation Once Again", "The West's Awake", "Fontenoy", "Lament on the Death of Eoghan Ruadh O'Neill", "Tone's Grave", and "The Lost Path". Davis died of scarlet fever aged just 31 in 1845.

Robert Emmet

Robert Emmet joined the United Irishmen while he was a student at Trinity College, and fled to France following the collapse of their rebellion in 1798. In 1803 he returned to Ireland and together with other revolutionaries such as Thomas Russell and James Hope prepared a new revolt. His Proclamation set out his vision for an Irish republic.

An explosion at one of Emmet’s arms depots forced him to bring forward the date of the rising and the premature rebellion quickly collapsed. Emmet fled into hiding but was captured and tried for treason. His Speech from the Dock became one of the great classics of Irish nationalism. On 20th September 1803 Emmet was executed at Thomas Street in Dublin and his remains secretly buried.


Theobald Wolfe Tone

Wolfe Tone was one of the founders of the Society of United Irishmen in 1791, along with Thomas Russell, Napper Tandy and others. The Society's Declaration was written by Tone to mark the second anniversary of the fall of the Bastille. The United Irishmen at first aimed simply to unite Catholics and Protestants and to achieve parliamentary reform. However, as it became clear that this could not be achieved by constitutional methods, they began to advocate the establishment of an Irish Republic separate from England and prepare for armed rebellion.

Despite being an Anglican, Tone was appointed secretary of the Catholic Committee, which advocated the enfranchisement of Catholics, in 1792. It was at this period he wrote An Argument on Behalf of the Catholics of Ireland, setting out the argument for religious toleration.

In 1794, the United Irishmen decided to seek French aid. The suppression of the Society soon afterwards forced him to emigrate to the United States, from where he journeyed to Paris in 1796 to persuade the French government to send an expedition to assist a rebellion in Ireland. As part of his campaign he wrote two Memorials on the Present State of Ireland.

First Memorial
Second Memorial

Tone's arguments proved persuasive, and a fleet with 14,000 soldiers was dispatched in December 1796 and reached Bantry Bay, but prevented from landing by severe gales. Tone's Address to the People of Ireland was written at this time.

In October 1798 Tone accompanied another, smaller, expedition to Ireland but was captured off the coast of Donegal. Taken to Dublin, he was court-martialled and sentenced to death by hanging. In his Address to His Court Martial he justified his actions. Subsequently, to avoid hanging - a death usually reserved for criminals - Tone committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor.


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