Easter Friday, 1916
P. H. Pearse. Final address to the soldiers of the Republic, April 28th, 1916.
Headquarters, Army of the Irish Republic.
General Post Office, Dublin.
28th April, 1916, 9.30 a.m.
The Forces of the Irish Republic, which was proclaimed in Dublin on Easter Monday, 24th April, have been in possession of the central part of the capital since 12 noon on that day. Up to yesterday afternoon Headquarters was in touch with all the main outlying positions and, despite furious and almost continuous assaults by the British Forces, all those positions were then still being held, and the Commandants in charge were confident of their ability to hold them for a long time.
During the course of yesterday afternoon, and evening, the enemy succeeded in cutting our communications with our other positions in the city, and Headquarters is today isolated.
The enemy has burnt down whole blocks of houses, apparently with the object of giving themselves a clear field for the play of artillery and field-guns against us. We have been bombarded during the evening and night by shrapnel and machine gun fire, but without material damage to our position, which is of great strength.
We are busy completing arrangements for the final defence of Headquarters, and are determined to hold it while the buildings last.
I desire now, lest I may not have an opportunity later, to pay homage to the gallantry of the soldiers of Irish Freedom who have during the past four days been writing with fire and steel the most glorious chapter in the later history of Ireland. Justice can never be done to their heroism, to their discipline, to their gay and unconquerable spirit in the midst of peril and death.
Let me, who have led them into this, speak in my own, and in my fellow-commanders’ names, and in the name of Ireland present and to come, their praise, and ask those who come after them to remember them.
For four days they have fought and toiled, almost without cessation, almost without sleep, and in the intervals of fighting they have sung songs of the freedom of Ireland. No man has complained, no man has asked ‘why?’. Each individual has spent himself, happy to pour out his strength for Ireland and for freedom. If they do not win this fight, they will at least have deserved to win it. But win it they will, although they may win it in death. Already they have won a great thing. They have redeemed Dublin from many shames, and made her name splendid among the names of cities.
If I were to mention names of individuals, my list would be a long one.
I will name only that of Commandant General James Connolly, Commanding the Dublin Division. He lies wounded, but is still the guiding brain of our resistance.
If we accomplish no more than we have accomplished, I am satisfied. I am satisfied that we have saved Ireland’s honour. I am satisfied that we should have accomplished more, that we should have accomplished the task of enthroning, as well as proclaiming, the Irish Republic as a Sovereign State, had our arrangements for a simultaneous rising of the whole country, with a combined plan as sound as the Dublin plan has been proved to be, been allowed to go through on Easter Sunday. Of the fatal countermanding order which prevented those plans from being carried out, I shall not speak further. Both Eoin MacNeill and we have acted in the best interests of Ireland.
For my part, as to anything I have done in this, I am not afraid to face either the judgement of God or the judgement of posterity.
P. H. Pearse,
Commanding in Chief the Army of the Irish Republic and
President of the Provisional Government.