Discover your ancestor among the thousands of names of those who participated in or were affected by the Easter Rising of April 1916. The collection also documents the names of both civilians and soldiers who were court-martialled in the years following the Rising. You will also find from the British Army and Royal Irish Constabulary search and raid reports, which were created during the War of the Independence as guerrilla warfare exploded across Ireland. The records have been published in partnership with The National Archives in London.
With each result, you will find an image of the original document and a transcript. The amount of detail in each transcript will vary depending on the nature of the document and events recorded. In each transcript you may find a combination of the following information:
Address and county
Soldier number, rank and regiment
Names of relatives
Archive reference and piece number
The image will give you additional information about the events recorded, and by using the previous and next buttons on either side of the image you can explore the files further. Your ancestor’s name may only appear on one page, but the rest of the images will provide context about the event.
Findmypast’s Easter Rising & Ireland under martial law, 1916-1921 was created in partnership with The National Archives in London and contains 91 pieces from their WO35 series, War Office: Army of Ireland: Administration and Easter Rising Records. The pieces from the collection include court-martial registers, reports of the events of Easter Rising week, search and raid reports, files of civilians tried by court-martial, and internment camp and prison registers.
The Easter Rising took place in 1916, starting on Monday 24 April and ending on Saturday 29 April. The Rising began in Dublin at the General Post Office with the proclamation of an Irish Republic. Then various locations throughout the city such as Boland’s Mill, Jacob’s Biscuit Factory and the Four Courts were seized by force by members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Cumann na mBan, Irish Volunteers and the Irish Citizen Army. Fighting took place in other parts of Ireland as well, such as Ashbourne, Enniscorthy and Galway. The intent was to ignite a rebellion in Ireland against British rule and establish an Irish Republic. The rebels, as the British Army labelled them, took advantage of the fact that, with the outbreak of the First World War, the number of British soldiers in Ireland was greatly reduced. Fighting persisted across the country but was mostly focused on Dublin throughout the whole week. Thousands of reinforcements for the British Army were brought into Ireland. An unconditional surrender of the rebels was reached on Saturday 29 April. The reports from that week reveal that victims of the Rising came from all sides: civilians, soldiers, police and rebels.
Immediately after the events of Easter week, Ireland was placed under martial law. The leaders of the Rising were quickly tried and executed. Thousands of others were arrested and placed in internment camps and prisons. The collection shows the names of the hundreds of people who were detained and interned in prisons in Ireland, England and Wales and tried by court-martial, including the names of prominent nationalists and elected officials. The internment files contain personal letters from prisoners or their relatives testifying to their innocence. Your ancestor may be found in the records if they were killed or wounded during the conflict, arrested and held in internment, or tried by court-martial. Additionally, if their home or place of work was searched they may appear in the records.
The records show the efforts of the military and police to discover arms, ammunition and seditious material through thousands of raids. The records additionally detail their search for individuals associated with such groups as Sinn Fein, Irish Citizen Army, Irish Volunteers and the Irish Republican Army. The reports contain raids on pubs (such as the Brazen Head), hotels, nationalist clubhouses (such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians), and thousands of homes.
At the time of the Rising, there was little popular support for a rebellion and for an Irish Republic. Many in Dublin opposed the Rising, especially those with relatives in the British Army fighting in the First World War. However, after the events of the week, the execution of the leaders and the British response, republicanism in Ireland grew and by 1918 Sinn Fein won an overwhelming majority of seats in the general election. In January 1919, the elected Irish members gathered and declared an independent Ireland and the Irish War of Independence soon began, ending with a cease-fire and treaty in 1921.
Events of Easter Rising week (WO35/69) This piece includes military intelligence reports on the actions of the rebels as well as reports of unarmed persons killed or wounded by the rebels throughout the week of the Easter Rising. The records include details of how individuals were wounded. It also includes daily situation reports created by the British Army.
In this piece, you will find telegrams reporting the swift trials and executions of prominent leaders of the Rising. The administration reports include discussions about what to do with the possessions of prisoners. For example, one report explains that Padraig Pearse’s mother had requested that her son’s watch and money be returned.
Raid and search reports (WO35/70-86)
These are reports of raids and searches that took place at various locations, such as private homes, pubs, hotels and factories across Ireland. Search orders recorded the address to be searched and what or who was expected to be there. The completed reports by military parties detail what the search revealed, including the names of anyone found on the site (and if they were questioned or arrested) and what items of interested were uncovered, such as arms, ammunition or seditious material. For example, the records show over 70 search and raid reports looking for Michael Collins, the Irish Republican Army’s director of intelligence.
Court-martial registers (Military), Dublin, 1920-1922 (WO35/57-58, WO35/68)
This source contains registers of the military court-martial trials. The registers recorded the individual’s rank, regiment, charge and verdict. Privates were brought before the court on charges such as theft, desertion and even physically assaulting a superior officer.
Civilians tried by court-martial, 1920-1922 (WO35/94-131, WO35/208)
While Ireland was under martial law, civilians could be court-martialled under the Defense of the Realm Act. Reports pertaining to such occurrences contain statements about the offence and details of the court proceedings. In many files, you will also find witness testimonies and statements about the character of the individual on trial.
Court-martial case registers, June 1916-1921 (WO35/132-137, WO35/139)
The registers contain the following information:
Names of those who were tried by court-martial
Charges against the individual(s)
Dates of offence, arrest, and court-martial
Verdict, sentence and scheduled release date
The particulars of the case
Additional annotations, such as if the person went on hunger strike and/or died. Additional notes also showed if the person escaped, such as Linda Kearns who escaped from Mountjoy Prison.
At the end of the registers are alphabetical lists of the prisoners and the page numbers where their trial details can be found. Countess Markievez, founding member of Inghinighe na hEireann (daughters of Ireland) and lieutenant of the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rising, and Thomas Ashe, founding member of the Irish Volunteers, can be found in these records.
Internment camps and prisons, 1920-1922 (WO35/138, WO35/140-144)
These pieces contain the lists of those held in various internment camps and prisons. There are pages of reports for many of the detainees recording their charges, trial, and sentence. Further reports exist for those who were found to be innocent, released, or on a hunger strike in prison.
Courts of inquiry (WO35/145-160, WO35/161-163)
This source includes investigations into the deaths of prisoners, rebels, civilians, soldiers, or police between 1919 and 1922. The context of each death was documented with witness statements and coroners’ inquests.
Sinn Fein activists, A-E (WO35/206) and F-W (WO35/207)
These are intelligence folders from Dublin Castle about known Sinn Fein activists. The folders may include newspaper clippings about the individual, reports of movements, or arrests, as well as additional material seized in raids related to the individual. There are files on Ernest Blythe, Harry Boland, W T Cosgrove, Sean McGarry, Mary MacSwinney, Eamonn Price, and more.
Military operation and inquiries (WO35/88-89)
In these pieces, you will find military investigations and inquiries into ambushes, raids, reprisals, and other incidents. For example, within WO 35/88b is an investigation into the deaths of civilians at Croke Park on 21 November 1920. The civilians were killed by the auxiliary branch of the Royal Irish Constabulary, known as the ‘Black and Tans’. The reports include the date and time of the incident, the names of those involved or present, and witnesses’ statements. Piece 89 is a card index of reports organised by surname in alphabetical order.
War diaries (WO35/90-93)
War diaries are created by military units. They are not personal diaries or reflections on events of the day. The war diaries documented movements of patrols and units, any arrests made, and a summary of any additional events of the day related to military activities. Most war diaries do not include many names unless it is an exceptional mention. They are useful for tracking companies and battalion movements.
Claims for damages (WO35/164-170)
These are claims for compensation for damage to properties or businesses by the British Army. Each claim will include the location of the damage, the date it occurred, and correspondence between the administration and the claimant about the investigation of the damage claim.
The communications pertain to military orders and movements, witness statements, and military nominal rolls.
Rebel outrages: appreciations and medal awards (WO35/181)
In this piece, you will find lists of names of people who were awarded medals and awards for their actions in Ireland. The lists include name, rank, regiment, and where the person was stationed.
Court-martial of Countess Markievicz (WO35/210-211)
These are exhibits of material used in the court-martial of Countess Markievicz. Included in this folder is a constitution of Fianna Eireann, a copy of a training circular of Fianna Eireann for boy scouts, and a letter from prison to Lily [Kempson].
Many of the records, especially internment records, only recorded an individual’s first initial and not the person’s full first name. Therefore, try search only for a first initial.
If you know your ancestor’s name in the Irish or Gaelic form, try searching for your ancestor with the English form of their name. The records were created by the British Army and they would have used the English versions rather than Irish.