Easter Rising 1916: BBC documentary explores the northern perspective
The 1916 Easter Rising, told from the perspective of people from what is now known as Northern Ireland, is explored in a new BBC documentary.
The official centenary commemorations took place at Easter last month, but the TV programme will be broadcast on the actual centenary - Sunday 24 April.
Exactly 100 years to the day that the rebellion began, the BBC film examines how events were viewed from Ulster.
It includes eyewitness accounts from both British soldiers and Irish rebels.
The Easter Rising was an ill-fated insurrection against British rule in Ireland which lasted less than a week - from 24 April to 29 April 1916.
However, the short-lived rebellion made a lasting impact on the course of Irish history and ultimately led to the partition of the island and the creation of the state of Northern Ireland.
"There wasn't a shot fired in the north, but there was still a very large northern contingent who fought on the side of the rebels," says series producer Paul McGuigan.
"Also, you have the irony that some people from the north were part of the British Army and they were all Irishmen at that stage because there was no partition.
"So, you had Irish fighting against Irish and some people from the north were part of the British Army stationed in Dublin at that stage and I don't think that has really been looked at in any of the proceeding documentaries."
The programme, entitled Voices 16 - "Rising", concentrates heavily on putting the rebellion in its wider historical context - as an unexpected challenge to British colonial power right in the heart of its empire, while its troops were suffering heavy losses in World War One.
It also examines the origins of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), and the parallel, arguably even greater, threat it posed to British authority in Ireland by resisting Home Rule.
The outbreak of World War One postponed the introduction of limited self-governance in Ireland - legislation that had set northern unionists in direct conflict with southern republicans.
"In 1913-14 Ireland was on a tipping point of civil war over this issue of Home Rule," National Museum of Ireland curator Lar Joye tells the programme.
Political historian Éamon Phoenix agrees, adding that unionist leader Edward Carson and his well-armed UVF militia had become a seditious force to be reckoned with.
"The Larne gun-running of the 22nd of April 1914 changes everything," Phoenix says.
"Thirty-five thousand German guns distributed around the province of Ulster - sophisticated weaponry including machine-guns.
"Now Carson's army has military dominance in Ireland. It's even a threat to the forces of the Crown."
The rebels also made their own, unsuccessful attempts to ship German guns to Ireland, notably led by County Antrim-raised Sir Roger Casement, who was later hanged for treason.
Phoenix says that it appeared to many that the government was using "kid gloves" on unionists and "lead bullets" on nationalists.
However, the government was not the only player to tread with caution around the UVF.
Using a witness statement from an Irish Volunteer, the programme recounts how rebel leader James Connolly angrily issued the order: "You will fire no shot in Ulster".
The Scottish-born socialist, who had moved his young family to Belfast, was wary of sectarian conflict, but later added: "If we win through, we will then deal with Ulster."
The documentary also hears testimony from the Belfast activist, Winifred Carney, who acted as Connolly's military secretary during the rising.
Carney had helped to set up an organisation called Cumann na mBan (League of Women), which was known as the women's IRA.
Stationed in the rebels' headquarters - Dublin's General Post Office (GPO) - she typed out orders from Connolly as the city centre building burned down around them.
The GPO was destroyed in the bombardment, but remarkably, both Winifred and the typewriter she used survived the heat of battle.
The programme team managed to track it down 100 years on, and seeing the actual typewriter used to despatch rebel orders was "pretty special", according to the producer.
"With that, came a cache of letters and telegrams from the likes of James Connolly," Mr McGuigan says.
"We also found her first-hand account [of the Easter Rising] the actual transcript of it and the document itself, and these haven't been seen in quite a while."
The documentary also recounts how a last-minute order issued by County Antrim man Eoin MacNéill - chief of staff of the Irish Volunteers - threw plans for the rebellion into confusion.
His notorious countermand, issued on the eve of the rising, meant the rebellion was confined to Dublin and ensured its military failure was even more emphatic than expected.
'Beginning to change'
MacNéill was imprisoned while other rebel leaders were executed, on the orders of Sir John Maxwell, the British general brought into to restore the rule of law.
"As the executions grind on over those weeks in May, you can see things beginning to change," says National Archives of Ireland historian Catriona Crowe.
Contributors agree that Maxwell "misjudged" the mood of moderate Irish nationalism and that his merciless approach only engendered greater sympathy for the rebels' cause.
But Crowe reminds the programme that the same British general had never been inclined to tolerate dissent from any corner of Ireland.
"Interesting, Sir John Maxwell wrote to his wife during those weeks in May to say that 'If we -the British establishment - had taken a strong line against the Ulster Volunteer Force and nipped that particular rebellion in the bud, none of this would ever have happened'."
Voices 16 "Rising" will be broadcast on BBC One Northern Ireland on Sunday 24 April at 20:00 BST.