Reported in the News Letter during this week in 1916: The Easter Rising


Here’s a selection of stories showing how the Easter Rising was reported in the News Letter 100 years ago:

Easter Manoeuvres Cancelled

[Monday, April 24]

The Easter manoeuvres of the Sinn Fein Volunteers, which were to have commenced in all parts of the country on Easter Sunday, were abandoned.

No clue to this unexpected development was afforded, and the following announcement, signed by Mr John MacNeill, ‘chief of staff’, was issued:

“Owing to the very critical position, all orders given to Irish Volunteers for Easter Sunday are hereby rescinded, and no parades, marches, or other movements of Irish Volunteers will take place. Each individual Volunteer will obey this order strictly in every particular.”

Demand for Prohibition

[Tuesday, April 25]

An imposing demonstration was held at Bangor yesterday afternoon in support of the demand for the prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquor during the period of the war and for six months afterwards.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the Bangor unit of the War Time Council on National Efficiency, and was an unqualified success.

The weather in the early part of the afternoon was so wet that the projected open-air demonstration at the bandstand in the Marine Gardens was abandoned and a procession, headed by the Salvation Army No 1 Ballymacarrett First Class Band, and, consisting of members of District Orange Lodges, Rechabites, representatives from various Churches, and others, made its way from the railway station to the Dufferin Hall, where the chair was taken by Mr John McMeekan JP, chairman of the urban council, and a series of stirring speeches was delivered.

Subsequently, the weather having improved, an adjournment was made to the Esplanade, where an open-air demonstration was held, and was very largely attended.

German Offer of Freedom to Traitors

[Tuesday, April 25]

A glowing tribute to the loyalty of Irish soldiers has been paid in an interview with the “New York Times” by Mrs Flora O’Gorman, wife of The O’Gorman of County Clare, who has been serving at the front as a Red Cross nurse since the beginning of the war, and who is now in New York to raise funds for military hospitals in France.

Mrs O’Gorman says: “There are said to be about 150,000 Irish soldiers now in the field and about as many more have been recruited.

“Some thousands of the Irish have been taken as prisoners of war and to each of them the Germans have offered freedom if he would renounce England and become a German soldier. They, too, seem to have the same mistaken idea that Ireland is not loyal. Well, of the thousands of Irish soldiers who have had the chance to buy freedom by treason only an insignificant number have availed themselves of it. I know that.

“I also learn, from a German officer whom I happened to know before the war and have since seen as a prisoner, that the most despised people in Berlin are those Irish traitors with the green harps on their German uniforms. There is no chance for them to get to the front because nobody trusts them.

“My husband has served in the British Army for 32 years, and for 20 of those years I have been with him in every part of the British Empire.

“Always have we had Irish soldiers, and always have they been among the best.”

Attempt to Land Arms in Ireland

[Tuesday, April 25]

The Secretary of the Admiralty announces that during the period between the afternoon of 20th April and the afternoon of 21st April an attempt to land arms and ammunition in Ireland was made by a vessel under the guise of a neutral merchant ship, but in reality a German auxiliary, in conjunction with a German submarine.

The auxiliary sank, and a number of prisoners were made, amongst whom was Sir Roger Casement.

The Press Association adds: “Sir Roger Casement was in the British Consular Service for 18 years, and was appointed British Commissioner to investigate the methods of rubber collection and treatment of the primitive Indian tribes in the

region known as Putumayo, on the Upper Amazon, a region dominated by the Peruvian Amazon Company.

“The publication of his report in July 1912, which revealed the systematic perpetration of appalling atrocities committed by the Peruvian agents of the company, occasioned profound indignation throughout the civilised world.

“He relinquished the Consul Generalship at Rio de Janeiro in 1913, and afterward took an active part in the Home Rule controversy in

Ireland on behalf of the Nationalist cause.

“Shortly before or a little after the outbreak of war he was in America, and gave voice to pro-German views. He subsequently went to Germany and was reported to have been received by high State officials in Berlin, who welcomed him for his anti-British sentiments.

“Reports from British prisoners of war in Germany have made grave accusations against Sir Roger Casement of attempting to induce Irish soldiers in the prisoner camps to renounce their allegiance to the British cause.”

The Disturbances in Ireland

News Letter Editorial

[Wednesday, April 26]

We are writing with a pretty fair knowledge of what happened in Dublin on Monday and again yesterday.

At the same time we have no news to present to our readers.

We have received intimation that the Government has issued an official communique, and that Mr Birrell made a statement in the House of Commons yesterday about “the disturbances in Ireland”. These we would be able to publish, but so far we have not received them.

In fact, our telegraphic supply of news has been entirely cut off, as our columns today bear testimony.

We cannot question the wisdom of this procedure, since we cannot convey to our readers any idea of the circumstances under which the Government is acting in order to deal with “the disturbances in Ireland”. We can only suggest that the isolation in which we now find ourselves is related to the steps which the Government is taking.

Our duty seems to us to be clear. It is to impress upon the people in this part of Ireland the imperative necessity they are under, severally and collectively, as loyal subjects of the King, of remembering what their duty is and of carrying it out strictly. That duty is to do all that in them lies for the preservation of law and order in our midst.

The holiday is now ended, and the great mass of our population will have returned to their occupations. We trust that employers and employed will go about their business today as in the usual course.

If this is done, we can assure everyone that it will help the authorities to deal in a prompt and effective manner with the very serious situation into which the country has been so suddenly plunged.

Further it will redound to the credit of the Imperial Province.

Demand for Conscription

[Thursday, April 27]

A meeting of an unusual character was held on Easter Monday night, near the Old Cross of Arboe, when an address in support of conscription was given by Mr Alphonsus Quinn, a local gentleman farmer.

The meeting was held under the auspices of a local sports club, and was presided over by Rev Father McGuiggan CC, Rev Father Loughran PP, and Father Donnelly (Coagh) being also present.

Mr Quinn said the war had been promoted by lust and greed for power, and the Germans were world-disturbers. The Irish people were as much interested as were those of, say, Yorkshire, not only as British subjects, but also from the point of view of business and commerce. They were bound up with Britain and must stand or fall with her. It was “Paddy to the front” at Waterloo, and on many another bloody field, and now if the necessary men could not be obtained voluntarily they certainly should be forced to go.

People did not like the name of a conscript army, but had such existed in Britain and Ireland two years ago there would have been no war.

Their money was being conscripted, they were tilling extra land indirectly for war purposes and in other ways being forced to help, and since there was the need he did not see any difference in calling up eligible men. If the country was worth defending, then their duty was clear.


News Letter Editorial

Thursday, April 27

We publish today the official reports of the “serious disturbances” in Dublin, and all who read them will be inclined to think that this is scarcely an adequate description of them. At the same time, they will recognise that the Government may have good reason for believing that it is better to minimise than exaggerate what has happened.

The seizure of the Post Office, the cutting of telegraphic and telephone communication, and the interruption of railway traffic would be grave events at any time, but no-one can deny that during a great war in which the whole Empire is fighting for its existence they constitute high treason.

The revolt was organised by the Sinn Feiners, who are evidently more powerful in the capital than either the Government or Mr Redmond wished the public to believe.

Satisfactory News From The South

[Thursday, April 27]

We are able at last to publish a number of official statements regarding events in Dublin during the last three days. From these it is clear that considerable headway has been made in the work of dealing with the Sinn Fein rebels.

During Tuesday night a gunboat shelled Liberty Hall, the headquarters of the Sinn Feiners, and the building was subsequently occupied.

Large reinforcements, including 10,000 troops from England, have arrived in Dublin, and the situation is well in hand. By Royal proclamation, trial by court martial has been substituted in regard to certain offences hitherto triable by the Civil Courts.

A Press Bureau message states that during Monday’s troubles in the capital three officers, four or five soldiers, two loyal Volunteers and two policemen were killed.

No exact information has been received of the casualties on the side of the Sinn Feiners.

Reports from Cork, Limerick, Ennis, Tralee and both ridings of Tipperary show that no disturbances of any kind have occurred in these localities.

Military Retakes The GPO

[Thursday, April 27]

We understand that the General Post Office, Sackville Street, Dublin, which was in possession of the Sinn Feiners since Monday, has been retaken by the military.

To Orangemen

[Thursday, April 27]

To the editor of the Belfast News-Letter.

Sir – I desire through you to remind all Orangemen that in a crisis like the present it is the duty of every loyal man to be ready to place his services at the absolute disposal of the Government.

Signed: James H Stronge

Grand Master of Ireland

Our News Supply

[Friday, April 28]

The rigorous control of the telegraphic and telephone services by the Military Authorities continues, and all communication between Belfast and Dublin and other parts of the United Kingdom is practically stopped.

We have not had the use of our private wire since Monday night, while neither war nor general news has come over the public wire.

A number of our English markets reports intended for Tuesday and Wednesday’s issues only reached us last night.

We are again compelled to go to press without any of our yesterday’s telegraphic news supply, and must ask the indulgence of our readers during the present critical times.

The Sinn Fein Rising

News Letter Editorial

[Friday, April 28]

The latest official intelligence available to us here in Belfast as to what is taking place in and around Dublin and elsewhere in the South and West of Ireland is contained in the message given out for publication by our City Commissioner last night.

It is a couple of bald sentences to the effect that in the past 48 hours satisfactory progress has been made in Dublin, the enemy being confined to sniping from houses in restricted areas.

If in this matter of official information we in Ulster were in no worse position than the rest of the United Kingdom, we would be content, for we would conclude that in the interests of the State it was desirable no more should, for the time, be disclosed. That, however, is not the case.

We all know now that on the other side of the Channel the country has received since Tuesday, if not a full, at least a fairly adequate knowledge of the situation. Even American newspapers have been publishing and commenting upon news of the Sinn Fein rising of which we in Ulster have been kept in ignorance.

Why have we been treated with such unfair discrimination? Surely we in the North of Ireland are as deeply interested in what is going on in our own country as are the people of England and Scotland?

The situation would be ludicrous if it were not so serious ... The ineptitude which has been displayed in all this since the rebellion broke out is, however, only the natural sequel to the purblind folly and fumbling feebleness of the Irish administration which preceded it, and which must be held accountable for it. One man is responsible for it all – the Chief Secretary.

Pope’s Exhortation to Irish Roman Catholics

[Friday, April 28]

I understand that the Pope is much moved at the incidents in Dublin, and that he will give instructions to all the Irish Roman Catholic bishops to exhort the clergy and people to maintain perfect loyalty towards England. In Vatican circles (says the “Daily Mail” correspondent in Rome) there is great satisfaction at the check to the attempted insurrection.

News Letter Editorial

[Saturday, April 29]

There is but one satisfactory item in the news concerning the Sinn Fein rising. That is the Prime Minister’s intimation that on Thursday the Cabinet came to a decision which takes all authority for dealing with the rebels out of the hands of the Irish Executive.

Under that decision the Executive were ordered at once to proclaim martial law over the whole of Ireland. General Sir John Maxwell was given plenary powers to issue the proclamation, and the Executive were instructed to place themselves at his disposal.

General Maxwell left London for Ireland on Thursday afternoon. There will be a feeling of relief all over the country at this news, if only for one reason; that Mr Birrell (the Chief Secretary) is deprived of Executive power, and that it has passed over to the strong hands of a soldier of distinction. We can hold good hope now that energetic action will be taken, that something like orderly organisation will be introduced at once into the procedure to restore law and order and to deal out adequate punishment to the rebels. If Mr Birrell had continued to hold the reins of power there could have been no confidence felt in his use of it.

Success of Bottle Collection

[Saturday, April 29]

The Bottle Collecting Scheme recently carried out in Belfast by the Boy Scouts of the city with the object of raising funds to pay for a soldiers’ recreation hut at the front was a huge success.

A total of 300,000 bottles was collected, the whole weighing over 300 tons.

A cheque for £600 is to be forwarded to the Chief Scout, Sir Robert Baden-Powell. The recreation hut will be known as “The Belfast Boy Scouts’ Hut” and will be placed in a position where it will be likely to serve the men from Ulster.

Sir Roger Casement

[Saturday, April 29]

Sir Roger Casement is now a prisoner in the Tower of London. He is understood to be occupying the apartment in which Carl Lody, the German naval officer, spent the night before his execution as a spy.

Lody, it is curious to note, was arrested at Killarney, and it was in that immediate neighbourhood that Casement fell into the hands of the authorities last Saturday.