Parnell was feared and reviled by the British. He died unexpectedly in 1891. After Parnell’s death, a period of political stagnation ensued. However a Gaelic revival did occur. This contributed greatly to the upcoming war for Independence.
The Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) was created to promote Irish sports and Gaelic football. During this time the Gaelic league was also created to revive interest in the Irish language. The Gaelic League started out to be non political. However, the IRB achieved control over the organization and it became a Nationalist organization. The GAA promoted sports and excluded those considered foreign.
In the early 1900’s many groups were forming in Ireland. First there was the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The UVF favored the status quo of British rule. They illegally imported guns and drilled openly. The British and the RUC turned a blind eye toward their activity. In response, this was a Nationalist group that favored independence. Some in the group advocated the need for military force. Sinn Fein was also on foot at this time. Sinn Fein was promoting home rule but not armed revolt. Sinn Fein wanted to establish an independent Irish Parliament within the British government.
In 1916 an ill-conceived revolt took place in Dublin at the site of the General Post Office. Militarily it was an utter failure. It was more like an act of grandstanding than a military operation. The British Forces quickly squashed the event and the leaders were arrested. However, it was the events that preceded it that made it a huge success for the struggle for independence.
The Rising took place on Easter Monday. The insurgents made the Proclamation that their purpose was to insure “All Children of the Nation be treated equally”. The participants were far from militants. They were primarily a group of idealists, including teachers, writers, and shop owners.
The Rising turned out to be more of a hold out than a military action. The whole event was over in less than a week. The militants ceremoniously surrendered and were hauled off to prison. They had little outside support and the entire event was considered foolhardy by most.
After the Rising hundreds of young men were rounded up and put in prison however this played no role in the action. Then the 16 organizers, including their leader James Connolly, were executed by firing squad. James Connolly had injured his leg and was too weak to stand. So he was placed in a chair and shot dead.
This enraged the populace and the international community and rekindled emotions of events past. It galvanized the Irish and brought on a new sense of patriotism. It was only afterward that the British realized what they had done. They had burned the event in history and had immortalized the participants in the hearts and minds of the Irish people. In Ireland the organizers of the revolt went from being well meaning fools to heroes.
The international community was also outraged by the actions of the British. With international support for the British in Ireland evaporating and a renewed sense of Nationalism growing within Ireland, the war for independence was on.