This beautiful place isn’t the Lexington Green, where the first shots of the American Revolution were fired. It is Saint Stephen’s Green in Dublin, and it’s an important place in Irish history.
I know I’m a history teacher, but I have to admit that history can be boring sometimes. Before this trip, I didn’t know a lot about Irish history, nor was I particularly interested. Talking to people who experienced big changes, and being in places where major changes happened, I became fascinated. That’s a big part of why I love to travel. I gain so much perspective and feel so much more connected to people who come from different backgrounds than me.
I happened to leave Ireland on a very special day, like America’s fourth of July, but much bigger. Today is the 100 year anniversary of the Easter Rising, the revolution which led to Ireland’s independence from Britain. In fact, the streets were all closed around my hotel because of the celebrations, and I was lucky to find a taxi to the airport! The taxi driver also taught me a lot this morning, answering many of my questions!
On this day, 100 years ago, Irish citizens organized themselves to fight for independence from the British crown. Ireland’s history is surprisingly similar to America’s in some ways. Around the same time British settlers were coming to Plimoth, they were also moving into their neighbor, Ireland. There are many old buildings from the time of British rule in Ireland, and even from before that.
It took the Irish longer to get to the point of revolution. But just like the Patriots in the colonies, many Irish Catholic people no longer wanted to be controlled by Britain, who had taken over their land. Catholics were experiencing a lot of discrimination, while the Protestant British citizens had most of the power. The Catholic rebels planned to seize control of Dublin by force.
On this day, 100 years ago, the rebels attempted to take control of key areas, first the heart of the British government in Ireland, the Castle and City Hall.
Over the next 5 days, the rebellion played out throughout the city, with the rebels headquartered in the General Post Office (where there was a big celebration today)!
They worked to take over other important parts of the city, like the famous Trinity College, which is still around today (Tofu San visited yesterday, as you can see).
As you can probably guess, the Irish succeeded! Ireland gained its independence, but during negotiations with Britain, they gave up Northern Ireland, which is still part of the United Kingdom today.
This flag is up EVERYWHERE in Ireland, and I think the proclamation in the middle must be sort of like their Declaration of Independence.
Today, the Irish celebrate 100 years of independence! Americans earned our independence more than 230 years ago, so nobody is alive in the US who fought in that war. In Ireland, there are many people around whose parents, cousins, grandparents, or other family members were part of this rebellion. I met one at an Easter Rising Centennial event at City Hall:
Now a days, Catholic and Protestant people live side by side in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, but there are more Catholic people in the south and more Protestant people in the north. Many Irish people wish that Northern Ireland were part of their country, but they accept that it probably won’t happen in their life times. I did see a small parade by a group called the IRA (Irish Republican Army), who want to use violence to take over Northern Ireland. Several locals told me that these people are “bad guys;” most Irish people do not want more blood shed.
Not many people came to the IRA march. The bigger parade in Dublin was just celebrating 100 years of Ireland being independent! And even though I missed a lot of the main celebrations today, I’m glad I got a taste yesterday:
Congratulations Ireland! I’m very glad that I have begun getting to know you.
Even though I’m home now, there’s still a lot more that I have to share. More Ireland entries will be coming soon, once I have more time to sort through my photos and videos.