Rebellion? Where? When?

‘Rebellion’ is the name of a recent series on Saturday nights on the Drama channel. It was about the Easter Rising in Ireland in 1916. It provoked a lot of controversy on both sides of the Irish Sea at the time and it still does. Nowadays a series like this could become part of the culture wars, as some people would call it unpatriotic. Not Irish people! See my post on that topic.

Why was and is the rebellion so controversial in Britain and in Ireland?

Firstly, that is because people can’t agree about the rights and wrongs of the cause.

  • Had the British Government conceded enough to the Irish when it passed the Home Rule Act, even if the First World War delayed its implementation?
  • Should the British Government have not conscripted Irishmen to fight the Germans?
  • Would Ireland have benefitted from a German victory?

Secondly, it is because people also disagree about the behaviour of both sides.

  • How well was the rebellion planned and executed?
  • Should the British have been better prepared and how well did they respond?
  • Were the British right to execute so many of the captured rebels?

One outcome was that the rising exacerbated the bitterness many on each side felt towards the other.

What about Rebellion as a drama?

I like a lot of elements.

  • I am pleased that Drama is showing some Irish history. Most historical dramas concentrate on England.
  • It portrays a variety of characters on both sides and a lot in the middle.
  • Characters don’t fit neatly into ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’.
  • It does not pretend everyone supported the cause and it shows looting and other selfish behaviour by local people.

On the other hand:

  • At first, I found some of the characters too similar. This might be because of the fashions and hairstyles of the time or because it introduced too many too soon. (As a writer, I have learnt to bring them in gradually).
  • It  could have shown more than one British character who was neither wicked nor weak.
  • A lot of the scenes are dark. I know a lot of the action took place at night and even by day people met in dark places for secrecy. I also appreciate that darkness is a metaphor for the dark times. However, give my eyes a break!
  • I found a lot of it confusing, mainly during the fighting, but that was probably how the people involved felt. Communication was always problematic, to say the least, at such times.

Have I written about this before?

No! My book Be Victorious! looks at lessons we should learn from the First World War. I do not mention the Easter Rising, but I do bring out many of the mistakes and unfortunate attitudes among the British leaders that you might see in Rebellion.

The cover of Be Victorious!. What this says about World War I may apply to the rebellion of 1916.

What this says about World War I may apply to the rebellion of 1916.