Almost a hundred years ago, the Irish Republic was declared on the steps of the General Post Office in Dublin. The building was seized and held, along with others across the city, for six days.
1,250 young men in the city itself, against 16,000 British troops and 1,000 armed police. There was also minor fighting in other parts of Ireland.
The ringleaders were imprisoned and executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol. The only senior officer who survived was Eamonn de Valera, on account of his American citizenship.
It's widely accepted that the goal of this rising was not successful rebellion, but a glorious, bloody defeat. A defeat to inspire others to rise up against English rule. To what extent that goal was achieved I don't know, but it was the start of the Irish War of Independence, during which Michael Collins led a guerrilla war against the British in Ireland.
The Rising is akin to the signing of the American Declaration of Independence in our history, or possibly the Boston Tea Party. It was the trigger event that led to the establishment of the Irish Republic.
But what always struck me as strange was that we're never taught the dates in school.
It's the Easter Rising, given only solemn, almost overlooked attention every Easter Monday. Not like other nations that celebrate their independence or birth of their rulers.
Perhaps it's because the end of the War of Independence led directly to the Irish Civil War, and the violence we're still living with today. We can't celebrate the birth of our nation because we've got too much blood in too recent memory. There are people alive whose parents and grandparents fought in both conflicts. The wounds still run deep.
Unfortunately, I think the Irish habit of not talking about painful things has left the rest of the world utterly in the dark about what blood has been spilled and why. This is why you get foreign bars selling drinks called "Irish Carbombs" or "Black and Tans." I really don't have the stomach to go into just why these things are offensive. I just wish the leftover hate could end, and we could start to acknowledge our history, beautiful and ugly, in ways that are more than reasons to incite more violence.
War happened, we killed people, and it started on Monday, April 24th.