“Hagiography” is a biography that idolises its subjects and having written about a LOT of Easter Rising talks and events in the last few weeks, I am wondering lately if there is a bit of “hagiographing” going on in all these talks. The largest amount of talks was about the role of women in the Easter Rising and the other section of talks is about the leaders of the Rising. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to go to any of the talks yet, but reading the descriptions, it seems that (nearly) every speaker feels obliged to paint a heroic-ish picture of the participants in the Rising.

For a historic treatment of an event it would be good to look at ALL aspects. And unfortunately, the immediate outcome of the Easter Rising was an unmitigated disaster. The surrender can’t have been the planned or preferred end of the Rising and it can’t have been the intention either to get so many of the leaders killed after the events. So where did they fail and why did they fail and who would have to take the responsibility for the failure of the Easter Rising? Bad planning? Bad execution? Too much idealism? Wrong assessment/expectation of the British reaction? What could have been done differently to successfully achieve the goals that they had? Was it even possible to achieve them?

I know all these questions could criticise the leaders of the Rising and that seems to be inappropriate this year. In hindsight, but only in hindsight!!!, we know that the sacrifice of the volunteers involved in 1916 achieved Ireland’s independence some years later, but that does not turn the Easter Rising itself into a success. The events in 1916 were an important trigger that lead to the the successful separation from Britain and it posthumously justified the Easter Rising, but it was still a failed operation if you look at the events in 1916 only.

Discussing this wouldn’t have to dirty the reputation of the volunteers, but ignoring it unfortunately turns many of the talks into blinkered hagiographies.