Courtney Lerch’s Study Abroad Portfolio ~ 2005

English 201-Honors and English and 314

Study Abroad with Radford University

European Literary Trails Program

Director: Dr. Jolanta Wawrzycka


The content of this page is research done for Honors Credit


British/Irish Law at the Time of the Easter Rising


            The day after the Easter Rising began, on April 25, 1916, Britain proclaimed martial law throughout Ireland (Liberation of Ireland).  What exactly is martial law, though?

            Martial law refers to the collective set of rules that are enabled when a military power takes over (Martial Law).  So in the case of Ireland during the Easter Rising, being under martial law meant that the British military was in charge of Ireland and thus the Irish people were subject to British laws and punishments.  Within a month of the rising, most of the leaders of the rising had been tried by court martial and shot, and their sentences were not publicized until after their deaths (Fitzgibbon).  The only leaders whose lives were spared were Eamon de Valera and Countess Markievicz (for more information on Constance Markievicz, click here).  But why?


                                    Eamon de Valera                                                                                      Constance Markievicz


Both de Valera and Markievicz were originally sentenced to death, and both of their sentences were commuted to life in prison (which did not happen either, as both were eventually granted amnesty).  Markievicz’s death sentence is thought to have been overturned because of the image the British would have received had they executed a woman (McGowan 33).  On the other hand, de Valera did not get the death penalty because of his American birth and the public outrage that would have ensued had he been shot (Eamon de Valera Biography).  In any case, it is interesting how the British government made exceptions for two of the people involved in the Easter Rising, but none of the others.


Works Cited:


"Eamon de Valera Biography." Eamon de Valera. 31 October 2005. <>. 

Fitzgibbon, Constantine. "1916 The Rising." 31 October 2005. <>. 

"Martial Law." Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. 5 November 2005 <>.

 McGowan, Joe. Constance Markievicz: The People's Countess. Mullaghmore, County Sligo. Constance Markievicz Milliennium Committee, 2003.


Pictures from:


  Back to English Honors Project


Home Page