Before the gallows……

Image

I believe that he knew he was about to be executed. I believe that he thought it was worth it completely. I have seen his letters to his mother in person, once he  was imprisoned and about to die. This schoolmaster, this poet, this philosopher and this hero of Ireland – this reason that I wear an Easter Lily badge – this man, is an idealist – a cheerleader – a man who never lost his faith in humanity and justice. He was amazing. His triumph was through his failure. His life was short but full and meaningful.

Nov. 10th, 1879 – May 3rd, 1916

 

Padraig Pearse’s Address to Court Martial:

I desire in the first place to repeat what I
have already said in letters to General Sir John
Maxwell and to Brigadier General Lowe. My object in
agreeing to an unconditional surrender was to prevent
the further slaughter of the civil population of
Dublin and to save the lives of our gallant followers
who, having made for six days a stand unparalleled in
military history, were now surrounded and (in the case
of those under the immediate command of Headquarters)
without food. I fully understand now, as then, that my
own life is forfeit to British law, and I shall die
very cheerfully if I think that the British
Government, as it has already shown itself strong,
will now show itself magnanimous enough to accept my
single life to forfeiture and give a general amnesty
to the brave men and boys who have fought at my
bidding.

In the second place I wish it to be understood
that any admissions I make here are to be taken as
involving myself alone. They do not involve and must
not be used against anyone who acted with me, not even
those who may have set their names to documents with
me. (The Court assented to this,)

I admit that I was Commandant General
Commanding in Chief the forces of the Irish Republic
which have been acting against you for the past week,
and that I was President of their Provisional
Government. I stand over all my acts and words done or
spoken in those capacities. When I was a child of ten
I went down on my bare knees by my bedside one night
and promised God that I should devote my life to an
effort to free my country. I have kept that promise.
As a boy and as a man I have worked for Irish freedom,
first among all earthly things, I have helped to
organise, to arm, to train, and to discipline my
fellow-countrymen to the sole end that, when the time
came, they might fight for Irish freedom. The time, as
it seemed to me, did come, and we went into the fight.
I am glad we did. We seem to have lost. We have not
lost, To refuse to fight would have been to lose; to
fight is to win. We have kept faith with the past, and
handed on a tradition to the future.

I repudiate the assertion of the prosecutor
that I sought to aid and abet England’s enemy. Germany
is no more to me than England is. I asked and accepted
German aid in the shape of arms and an expeditionary
force. We neither asked for nor accepted Germany [sic]
gold, nor had any traffic with Germany but what I
state. My aim was to win Irish freedom: we struck the
first blow ourselves but should have been glad of an
ally’s aid.

I assume that I am speaking to Englishmen, who
value their freedom and who profess to be fighting for
the freedom of Belgium and Serbia. Believe that we,
too, love freedom and desire it. To us it is more
desirable than anything in the world. If you strike us
down now, we shall rise again and renew the fight. You
cannot conquer Ireland. You cannot extinguish the
Irish passion for freedom. If our deed has not been
sufficient to win freedom, then our children will win
it by a better deed.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s