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Pearse, Patrick (Pádraig) (1879–1916)

William H. Mulligan, Jr.


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Patrick Pearse, also remembered by the Irish form of his name, Padraig, was the most visible of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising . His mystical sense of Irish nationality, his literary skill in articulating it, and his willingness to embrace martyrdom have made him a central figure in the Irish republican tradition. Pearse was born in Dublin on November 10, 1879. His father, James, was an English stonemason who had emigrated to Ireland because of the boom in church construction there; he converted to Catholicism in 1870. James married Patrick's mother, Margaret Brady, his second wife, in 1877. Patrick's mother's family included a number of native Irish speakers from County Meath. That influence, and his education by the Christian Brothers, developed a love for Irish language, culture, and history early in his life. In 1896 he joined the Gaelic League and became editor of its newspaper, An Claidheamh Soluis (The Sword of Light), in 1903. Pearse, like many in the Gaelic League, believed that the Irish language was essential to the preservation of Ireland's distinctive culture and nationality. Pearse earned a degree in modern languages and law in 1901 and was called to the bar, but his heart was not in it. His father's death in 1900 provided an inheritance that allowed him to pursue his interests in Irish language and culture rather than practice law. In 1908 he founded a bilingual ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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