The Rising of 1916 and afterwards did not take place at the hasty whim of a few "reckless irresponsible young men" as those of the time were described. The natural instinct for freedom lay in all Irishmen and the seeds were sown when such National Organisations as the Gaelic Athletic Association [was founded] in 1884, which has as it's aims the preservation of Irish games, culture and pastimes. The formation of the Gaelic League in 1893, which concerned itself with the Irish language [and other Gaelic activities] was a further step along the line of National Preservation, and both organisations worked hand in hand, as most of the members were affiliated to both. Underwritten in these Associations was National freedom and this was [often] the main theme at all gatherings, be it game or language class. They were both closely associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Waterford had strong connections with [these] Associations as Padraig O'Dalaige from Abbeyside was one of the first secretaries of the Gaelic League, and he was followed in office by Padraig Mac Piarais. The County was one of the first to play organised Gaelic games, and as far back as 1898 to part in an All-Ireland netball final represented by the Erins Hope. A Dungarvan man was trustee for the G.A.A.[for many years, and was mainly responsible for] the purchase of [the] Jones Road [Field], now Croke Park. These organisations fostered the Separatist Spirit, and were often the cover for more serious businesses.
When Pearse founded [his schools], boys [and girls] from this district were among its first pupils. Fr. Willie Landers of Ballinroad (Uncle of Micky Landers) was Chaplain to St. Endas [(boys) and St. Itas (girls)]. It was because the National Spirit was very low that these and kindred organisations were founded at the time. So much so was this, that at the beginning of the first world war, 1914, the then British Foreign Secretary said that "Ireland was the one bright spot in a very dark situation for the British Empire".
Author: Domnall O'Faoláin