1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pearse, Patrick Henry

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PEARSE, PATRICK HENRY (1870-1916), Irish educationist, author, and Sinn Fein leader, was born in Dublin on Nov. 10 1879. His father was an Englishman, a sculptor and worker in stone, who was himself the author of a pamphlet on England's Duty to Ireland as it appears to an Englishman. It is likely that it was from his father Pearse derived his love of liberty; and from his mother, whose people came from county Meath, he drank in memories of '98 and of the Fenians. He was educated at the Christian Brothers schools and graduated before he was 24 at the Royal University of Ireland as a B.A. and B.L. His first serious work was when he became editor of the Claidheamh Soluis, the weekly organ of the Gaelic League. When engaged on this work he made a tour through Belgium to study bilingual methods, and edited several Fiona tales from Irish manuscripts. He was a hard worker on the Coisde Gnotha or Executive of the League, and secretary to its publication committee. He was more interested in education than in any other subject, and it is remarkable that he was in favour of accepting Mr. Birrell's Irish Council bill (see 14.788) in 1907, because it gave the Irish control over their own education. In this attitude he stood almost alone. His first book was a slender volume containing Three Lectures on Gaelic Topics, published when he was only 19, dedicated to the New Ireland Literary Society (an ephemeral body which he himself had founded) by its President. This little book contained the germs of much later and better work, including a plea for enthusiasm, and a prophecy that the Gael would “become the saviour of idealism in modern intellectual and social life.” In order to carry out his educational schemes he founded a school at Cullenswood, in Dublin, which prospered. The idea was to give an Irish education such as he assumed would be given in a free Ireland. Much stress was laid on the Irish language and on religion. In 1910 he removed this school to the Hermitage, Rathfarnham, a few miles out of Dublin, and continued to run it until his death. He travelled in America collecting money for his schemes, and on his return threw himself into the Irish Volunteer movement. He was high up in its councils, and led in the revolution of 1916, of which he was commander-in-chief. At the same time he proclaimed an Irish Republic. After a week's fighting in Dublin he saw that further resistance was useless, and ordered the Volunteers to lay down their arms. He and Thomas MacDonagh, who had formerly been one of his assistant masters at the Hermitage, and other leaders were tried by court-martial and shot soon after their surrender. Pearse was an excellent orator, with a fine resonant voice. He was a pious Catholic, of irreproachable life, a great lover of children and of nature.

After his death appeared The Collected Works of Padraic H. Pearse (3 vols. 1917), containing plays, poems and stories in Irish, and one volume of English writing.

(D. Hy.)