The Easter Rising

Accessible Alternative View Fullscreen

In the early nineteenth century, few in Liberal Italy had turned their thoughts to Ireland. Some, however – most notably the Catholic modernist Ernesto Buonaiuti and the religious historian Nicola Turchi – recognised the profound political and cultural changes that Ireland was undergoing, and talk began to turn in Italy to the Celtic Revival. Among these voices was James Joyce, who, having been based in Trieste since 1904, devoted himself to spreading news of Irish literature and politics through articles, conferences and translations. 

Interest grew during the First World War. On April 24th, Easter Monday 1916, a group of Irish nationalists including Padraig Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh, Sean MacDermott, Joseph Plunkett and Eamonn Ceannt, launched a revolt; their goal an Ireland independent of the British Empire. Pearse, a revolutionary poet, declared the birth of the Irish Republic outside Dublin’s General Post Office.  The rising lasted only one week, but made headlines all over the world. Italy was no exception, but the majority of the country’s main newspapers favoured the British side, since reports were filtered through British news agencies. There were, however, dissenting voices. 

Some clergymen with links to the Irish community in Rome (John Hagan and Michael O’Riordan) and a number of socialists, including Dino Fienga and Paolo Valera, attempted to promote an alternative view of the Rising, publishing articles and pamphlets which offered a version of events more sympathetic to the Irish rebels. However, these voices of opposition were fragmented, and never joined to form a unified chorus in support of Ireland which would be heard within the Italian political landscape. 

This situation was to change during the War of Independence (January 1919 - December 1921). News of violence and persecution perpetrated by British troops against the civilian population spread around the world, and shook international public opinion. In Italy, a broad movement emerged in support of Irish independence from all across the political spectrum (including Catholics, Socialists, Nationalists, and the nascent Fascist movement) and from the intellectual sphere, including Gabriele D'Annunzio and in particular the poet Annie Vivanti, who took up her pen in support of the cause.  

                                                                             Ireland and Fascist Italy