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Pearse, Patrick

Pearse, Patrick (1879–1916). Pearse was the son of an English-born stonemason, a non-practising lawyer, dramatist, and headmaster of St Enda's School (Dublin), which he ran on Gaelic Revivalist lines. A leading member of the Gaelic League, he supported Home Rule up to 1912: the Ulster crisis caused him to advocate a militant nationalism and to join the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He became a dominant voice in the Irish Volunteers and a member of the IRB military council which planned the Easter Rising. His philosophy of blood-sacrifice appeared to anticipate and justify the course of events during and after the rising. Pearse read the declaration of the Provisional Irish Republic outside the General Post Office on 24 April 1916; gave orders for surrender five days later; and was executed on 3 May. The traditional view of him as a heroic voice of Irish nationalism has recently been questioned, but while impractical and unstable, he was, nevertheless, inspirational.

Michael Hopkinson

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