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March 23 , 2010

Easter Rising 1916: The Trials


This book, the companion to The Trials of Civilians by Military Courts: Ireland 1921, is a fascinating and comprehensive study of the trials during May 1916, following the Easter Rising. There were 160 trials conducted in a two-week period between the 2nd and 16th May 1916. During this period, of the 93 death sentences handed out, 15 were carried out, and nearly 2,000 men and women deported to England. It was not until the turn of this century that the Public Records Office released the trial records relating to the executed prisoners.

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Written by an expert legal historian, this book offers an unsentimental reappraisal of the trials and the trial regime, and includes previously unpublished trial records of men such as Harry Boland, Desmond Fitzgerald, George Plunkett and William Partridge as well as many of the footsoldiers who were sentenced to death. The process of execution is also examined, bringing to light the dark occasions when executions were botched and covered up.

This powerful analysis of an uncomfortable moment in history when the rule of law gave way to political imperatives is seen through a variety of previously unpublished trial records and the systematic collating of accounts given by prisoners. The result is a fascinating insight into a little known aspect of the 1916 Rebellion and its dramatic aftermath.

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