By Eamonn Duggan
While most people in the country were preoccupied with the war and beginning to accept that there was no end in sight to it a minority of nationalists were once again coming around to the age old adage that “England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity” and that the time had come to strike for Ireland’s independence.
The theory was that the government in London would have little time to focus its attention on Ireland and that plans could be put in place for a rebellion which would go largely unhindered.
As the year began most nationalist in Ireland were resolutely in the Home Rule corner and gave little thought to independence and breaking the link with Britain. They still held out hope that Home Rule would be introduced as soon as the war ended and had little reason to desert John Redmond and the Irish Parliamentary Party.
While Redmond and his colleagues dominated the political scene throughout 1915 a political revolution began to quietly take shape in backrooms far removed from public glare.
Men who saw a different future for their country met to plan for rebellion intending to take the authorities by surprise while hoping that the majority of their countrymen and women would eventually reject British imperialism and embrace the ideal of independence.
They were under no illusion that any revolution would be a popular one because the majority in the country were politically comfortable with Ireland being part of the United Kingdom and their initial support and enthusiasm for the war reflected that attitude.
Yet, those who dissented from the popular viewpoint were determined not to be deflected from their chosen course. For these men the year 1915 would be the year for laying plans for an independent Ireland. Those plans would eventually come to fruition at Easter the following year.
So, who exactly were the men who set about planning a different future for Ireland? Many had been born into the ideal of republicanism while others had come to embrace it over the course of their lifetimes.
What was clear, however, was that they all looked forward to the day when British rule in Ireland would come to an end once and for all. They longed for the day Irish people could claim their right to self- determination while at the same time seeing their country take its rightful place among the free nations of the world.
The men in question were also aware that any plans for a rebellion would have to be safely guarded and the need for secrecy was paramount.