‘I write it out in a verse –
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.’
– WB Yeats, ‘Easter, 1916’
The Easter Rising of 1916 was the pivotal moment in Ireland’s long struggle for independence from British rule. It lasted only six days, had little popular support and ended in the executions of its leaders.
The severity of the English response unintentionally turned the tide of public opinion towards republicanism everywhere in Ireland – except for the north. Ultimately, the Rising’s ‘terrible beauty’ fuelled the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 and its separation from Northern Ireland, which remains part of the United Kingdom.
The Rising also had a significant impact on Australian society and politics, especially through the activism of the Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, who led the successful anti-conscription faction into the 1916 and 1917 plebiscites on the issue.
The images in this online gallery featured in our free display The Irish Rising: 'A terrible beauty is born', held from 17 March to 31 July 2016 in partnership with the University of Melbourne to commemorate the centenary year of the Rising.