As we approach the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising, Four Provinces manager Sally Richardson provides readers with a selection of recently published or reissued titles dealing with the event
THERE IS a mass of material about the Easter Rising. It seems at once amazing and yet not surprising that the British kept the records of the courts martial of the executed men under wraps until 1999. Further documents regarding British army atrocities in North King Street were not actually released until 2001.
Surprisingly little has been published about the leaders, except perhaps Connolly, and until recently the role of women in the Rising was given only the most cursory attention.
The following are are wholly or substantially about the Rising. I have concentrated on books recently published or reissued and in print.
The Easter Rising by Michael Foy and Brian Barton (Sutton).This excellent history of the Rising came out in 1999. It includes plenty of detail and analysis and the authors make use of many hitherto-neglected primary sources. Possibly the best overall account.
The Easter Rebellion by Max Caulfield (Gill and Macmillan). First published in 1963, the author obtained much first-hand material from surviving participants. Strong on narrative, but weak on analysis. Sources are not provided. Even so, this old-fashioned account is still worth reading.
From Behind a Closed Door: secret Court Martial records of the 1916 Easter Rising by Brian Barton (Blackstaff). First publication of the court martial records (2002) with a biographical chapter on each of the 15 executed men, plus one on Sir John Maxwell. With new material on the trials and executions, this book is extremely valuable.
When History Was Made: the Women of 1916 by Ruth Taillon. This pioneering book is the first general account of women'sparticipation in the Rising. Contains list of all the women on the rebel side the author could trace.
Easter 1916: the Irish rebellion by Charles Townshend (Penguin). I can't comment on this as I haven't yet seen acopy, but it looks like being up-todate and professional. Only in hardback at the moment; a paperback edition should be out shortly.
1916: The Easter Rising by Tim Pat Coogan (Cassell). This splendid book of photographs taken during and after the Rising is a visual feast. Short but good text makes use of new material.
Sean Mac Diarmada: the mind of the revolution by Gerard Mac Atasney (Drumlin). It is remarkable that the first biography of this key figure of the Rising was only published in 2004. Underneath Mac Diarmada's good looks and charm lay a clear-headed and utterly determined revolutionary. This is a fine biographyof an extraordinaryman.
Enchanted by Dreams by Joe Good (Brandon). Good, a Londoner, went over to Dublin to take part in the Rising and afterwards settled there. This account was written in 1946 for his son, who published it in 1996. Contains one of the most vivid accounts of the GPO during the Rising ever written. Highly recommended.
My Fight for Ireland's Freedom by Kathleen Clarke (O'Brien Press). Kathleen Clarke was at the very centre of events, involved in the planning of the Rising and the reorganization after it. Written between 1939 and 1943, it was edited by Helen Litton and published in 1991.
Rebel City: Larkin, Connolly and the Dublin labour movement by John Newsinger (Merlin-London). Covers the events of 1913-1916, with a glance up to the 1920s, from the perspective of the trade union movement. Excellent on the 1913 Dublin Lockout, controversial on the Rising; well worth reading.
James Connolly and the Irish Left by W K Anderson (Irish Academic Press). One of the best books on Connolly. Examines Connolly's theory and practice thematically, and looks at his part in the Rising from several angles. This book contains plenty analysis, and includes coverage of the feminist and trade union movements.
A Walk through Rebel Dublin 1916 by Mick O'Farrell (Mercier Press) and The Easter Rising: a guide to Dublin in 1916 by Conor Kostick and Lorcan Collins (O'Brien). These two guides take the reader around the places associated with the Rising. Plenty of history, anecdotes, illustrations and maps.
1916 as History: the myth of the blood sacrifice by C Desmond Greaves (Fulcrum Press). Classic pamphlet written from a Marxist point of view, dispelling revisionist myths surrounding the Rising while adding newinsights. Essential
Connolly Publications Ltd, 244 Gray's Inn Road, London, WC1X 8JR
Copyright © 2006 Sally Richardson