One of the earliest published accounts of the 1916 Rising written “while the ruins [were] still smouldering” is A record of the Irish rebellion of 1916 published by the magazine ‘Irish Life’. Received by Trinity College Library on the 29th of June 1916, this issue contains a history of events leading up to the rebellion; accounts of the military operations; a civilian eyewitness account; facsimiles of documents produced by the rebels, and more. It is an excellent pictorial record, illustrated throughout with portraits, maps and photographs.
The statement “passed by the press censor” on the front cover of the magazine refers to media censorship that was enforced in Britain and Ireland at the time. A special Press Censorship Office was set up in Dublin after the rebellion which aimed to prevent the publication of seditious or inflammatory material. This magazine intended to be “free of any partisan spirit” and so it presents different first-hand accounts from the military and impressions of the street fighting from a civilian, but uses documents issued by the rebels to provide their narrative of events. The Rising is also described as the “most reckless and unjustifiable of rebellions.” This was not an unusual point of view; in fact the majority of Irish people were not in favour of the rebellion when it occurred.
Wartime propaganda is prominent in many of the advertisements in the magazine. Most notably, a full page ad for the Royal Munster Fusiliers’ prisoner of war fund occupies the inside front cover. Appeals for funds like this were common throughout WWI but this particular ad is a great example of the type of propaganda used to promote the war effort in Ireland. The Munsters are seen as an example of extreme loyalty singing “God save the King” as they defeat the Huns, despite the rebellion at home.
A record of the Irish rebellion of 1916 may be consulted in the Early Printed Books reading room.
Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections