• Fri. Dec 8th, 2023

Could You Not Just Wait? on BBC Radio 4

ByEllie Burgin

Mar 29, 2016

Marking the one-hundred-year anniversary of Dublin’s Easter Rising, April 1916, LSE’s Heather Jones discusses the necessity, causes and impacts of such an influential moment of Irish history in Radio 4’s documentary ‘Could You Not Just Wait?’

Interspersed with sounds of gunshots and the traditional Irish ballad ‘Foggy Dew’, Heather Jones discusses the rising in the light of recently opened archives. The background noise at the start of the documentary subtly introduces the aggression of the rising, pre-empting the focus of the programme.

Employing snippets of speeches, contemporary radio broadcasts and the views of various historians, the extremity of this event is evident through her clear examination.

Jones cites numerous shocking statistics, such as the upsetting fact that 40 children died during the violence of the rising, the youngest of whom was a mere 22 months old. The inclusion of such distressing data unveils the brutal truth behind the events in Dublin.

As a result of the high casualty rate, Jones offers the justifiable argument that those behind the rising were selfish. Despite fighting for their nation, the violent clashes led to many Irish civilians being caught in the firing and thus losing their lives, whether or not they believed in the cause.

The extremity of the Easter Rising is further accentuated in this programme by Professor Keith Jeffrey, who describes it as being a microcosm of the western front in the First World War. The Queens University scholar explains how the rising began with untrained soldiers in fixed positions, an oppression of the attacks of Calvary and the use of shells for mass killings. This is an interesting outlook on the events, sensitively addressing the rising in the light of contemporary historical events.

‘Could You Not Just Wait?’ is a compelling analysis of the impact of the Easter Rising, offering the varying views of numerous historians with an overriding suggestion that the rising was unjust and, primarily, unnecessary.

Image: Walter Paget (photo of original)

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