Saturday, October 13, 2012
Day 13 of Good Books: 1916 by Morgan Llywelyn
In 1916, during World War 1, a small group in Dublin plan an uprising for their independence. Home Rule for the Irish was suspended in 1914 due to the beginning of the war. Public sentiment was not on the side of the uprising, however, because approximately 100,000 of Ireland's sons are in the British service fighting against Germany.
Ms. Llywelyn tells the story of the events that led to the uprising in Dublin on Easter Monday and took over the major buildings in Dublin ... and she tells it though the eyes of a fictional young man, Ned Halloran.
Ned survived the shipwreck of the Titanic, though his parents did not, when they were en route to see his sister Kathleen who lived in the U.S. A few years later, Ned is in school at St. Edna's where Padraig (Patrick) Pearse is the schoolmaster. Padraig Pearse is also a key figure in the uprising. He was the first of many executed by the British, on May 3rd. Others would later have their death sentences commuted to life imprisonment and some granted amnesty.
It was Britain's response to the uprising that changed the tide of public sentiment. Day after day of executions, including the execution of James Connolly who would've died within a day or so anyway, but was tied to a chair the British could execute him by firing squad, pushed the Irish people too far.
I didn't find this to be a war story, but rather a human story of the internal conflicts a civilian community battles as they weigh the cost against the necessity of seeking independence.
I find Irish history irresistibly romantic. I try to fight it, but it's beyond my control. The beauty of the land, the lilt of the Irish brogue, the bravery of their young, the cost of their fight... it never fails to stir me. I found this particular book by Llywelyn was written in a way I appreciated largely because of those feelings.