Padraig Pearse, an idealistic school teacher, and barrister, a member of the Gaelic League and editor of their newspaper An Claidheamh Solais (‘The Sword of Light’), became in many ways the public face of the Rising. Pearse established a bilingual school for boys, to advance his ideal of a free and Gaelic Ireland, believing in Home Rule, and that education would win the battle for freedom from Britain. As a pioneer of Irish writing, Pearse published poems and articles to help further a break with England.
As the Gaelic League attracted militants, Pearse’s outlook on Irish freedom had become more radical. He became a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and made a member of the Supreme Council in July 1914. That same month, Pearse was involved in the smuggling of weapons and ammunition through Howth Co Dublin which were stored at St Enda’s, the school he formed.
As he delivered the graveside oration of Fenian leader O’Donovan Rossa in 1915, we remember these words from the speech:
“We stand at Rossa’s grave not in sadness, but in exultation of spirit… This is a place of peace sacred to the dead, where men should speak with all charity and all restraint; but I hold it a Christian thing… to hate evil, to hate untruth, to hate oppression, and hating them to strive to overthrow them… while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree, shall never be at peace.”