Pádraic Mac Piarais aka Patrick Henry Pearse aka Pádraig Pearse best known as one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, was also an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, and author.
His works inspired generations of young poets and writers after him; several of his poems in English such as "The mother", "The Fool" and "The Wayfarer" are highly acclaimed. He also wrote additional lyrics for the song 'Oró Sé Do Bheatha 'Bhaile'.
His last poem, The Wayfarer, was written on the eve of his execution:
The beauty of the world hath made me sad,
This beauty that will pass;
Sometimes my heart hath shaken with great joy
To see a leaping squirrel in a tree
Or a red lady-bird upon a stalk,
Or little rabbits in a field at evening,
Lit by a slanting sun,
Or some green hill where shadows drifted by
Some quiet hill where mountainy man hath sown
And soon would reap; near to the gate of Heaven;
Or children with bare feet upon the sands
Of some ebbed sea, or playing on the streets
Of little towns in Connacht,
Things young and happy.
And then my heart hath told me:
These will pass,
Will pass and change, will die and be no more,
Things bright and green, things young and happy;
And I have gone upon my way
He studied law and was later called to the bar. He had joined the Gaelic League on leaving school and had become single-mindedly committed to the revival of the Irish Language and to educational reform. Initially, he regarded this as more important than political independence. In 1908 he established Scoil Éanna (St. Enda's School) an independent Irish-speaking school for boys in Dublin; its pupils were to "work hard … for their fatherland, and if it should ever be necessary … die for it". In 1910 he moved the boys' school to Rathfarnham and established St. Ita's for girls in its place at Ranelagh.
He joined the Irish Volunteer Force at its foundation in November 1913 and gained rapid promotion to its headquarters staff. In May 1915 he was made a member of the IRB Military Council which was secretly planning the Easter Rising. Pearse was one of only 30 people who knew where and when it would take place. On 23rd April 1916, the Military Council appointed him Commandant-General of the Army of the Irish Republic and President of the Provisional Government to be proclaimed next day. During Easter week Pearse served at the rebellion headquarters, the GPO (in titular command only – it is unlikely that he fired a single shot).
Following surrender, Pearse was sentenced to death and transferred to Kilmainham Gaol on May 2, 1916. He wrote to his mother ‘This is the death I should have asked for if God had given me the choice of all deaths’. According to the diary of a British soldier, Sergeant Samuel Henry Lomas, who was present at his execution (between 3:30-4:00 am), Pearse whistled on his way to meet his maker.
His body was transported to Arbour Hill for burial. The gravesite of 14 of the 15 executed is located under a low mound on a terrace of Wicklow granite in what was once the old prison yard. It is now surrounded by a limestone wall on which their names are inscribed in Irish and English.
|Date of Birth||10th Nov 1879|
|Date of Death||3rd May 1916|
|Associated Building (s)||27 Great Brunswick Street Dublin, The Hermitage Rathfarnham, The General Post Office Dublin, Kilmainham Gaol|
|Mother (First Name/s and Maiden)||Margaret Brady (1855-1932) daughter of a coal merchant, whose father's family moved from Co Meath to Dublin during the famine.|
|Father (First Name/s and Surname)||James Pearse (1839-1900) sculptor, born in England|
|Townland born||27 Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street) Dublin 2|
|Names of Siblings||Margaret Mary Pearse, b. 1878 | William James Pearse, b. 1881 | Mary Bridget Pearse, b. 1888 ||
|Names of Siblings||Half-siblings: Mary Emily Pearse, b. 1864 at Dublin, m. Alfred McLoughlin | James Vincent Pearse, b. 1866;|
|Spouse (First Name/s and Maiden/Surname)||never married|
|Occupation||Barrister | Head-Teacher | Commandant-General of the Army of the Irish Republic | President of the Provisional Government 1916|
|Place of Death||Kilmainham Gaol Dublin|